Home News Pink Elephant Movement to host second 5k

Pink Elephant Movement to host second 5k

The organization seeks to bring attention to local addiction

Left, Reenie Dugan hugs Ronnie McCafferty, mother of Paula Anderson who passed away in May of 2016

In response to the crippling opiate/heroin epidemic that is “progressively getting worse with each passing second,” a group of neighbors from the Port Richmond community wanted to find a way to raise awareness and ignite change. In doing so, they founded “The Pink Elephant Movement,” and the group will be hosting its second annual fundraising 5K race on Saturday, Oct. 7 beginning at 10 a.m. with its start and end location at Cione Playground on Aramingo and Lehigh avenues.

Co-founded by Reenie Dugan and Kathy Taylor, the organization’s name properly insinuates that addiction is occurring without necessary conversations being had regarding how to combat it, much like what the “elephant in the room” idiom implies. Thus, the two thought hosting a run throughout the streets of the neighborhood would further bring light to the issue, deterring those who are affected by addiction from simply hiding in the shadows due to shame, embarrassment or guilt.

“I got the idea for this when I was driving through Fishtown last year and I couldn’t get to where I was going right away because multiple streets were blocked off,” Dugan, who grew up at Richmond Street and Lehigh Avenue, said. “I later found out it was because people were running in the street to raise money for the St. Laurentius School. A couple days later, I was thinking about this, and all the people’s houses they were running by, and that it might be nice to do something similar to raise awareness of the opioid addiction.”

After discussing her idea with a few friends, including Taylor, her sister-in-law and brother, the small group got to work forming a route and obtaining the required permits to host such an event. Then, during the first weekend of October 2016, they held the first Pink Elephant 5k, which brought together more than 600 participants.

Participants in the 2016 Pink Elephant 5k race

“I think people were really grateful after last year’s race, because they found a sense of comfort in knowing that they are not alone, with so many other families going through the same thing,” Dugan, who lives on Salmon Street, said. “Some people don’t realize that addiction can happen to anyone. It can happen to star athletes, doctors’ kids, anyone; not just kids who had a bad upbringing or who were dealt a bad hand.”

To further identify with those who are struggling, last year organizers of the Pink Elephant 5k invited attendees to bring photos with descriptions, with the family’s consent, of loved ones who had passed from addiction. While last year 23 victims were memorialized, this year 85 individuals who have since passed from the disease will on display to be remembered.

Memorials on display at the 2016 Pink Elephant 5k race

“We raised a lot of money last year, but we want to keep doing bigger things for the families,” Dugan said.

With this money, Dugan said it didn’t feel right assigning it out as a scholarship, so instead The Pink Elephant Movement, which became an official 501c3 as of December, decided to find a way to give the proceeds back to the individual families. Thus, it chose to provide 10 kids with Christmas gifts last year, paid tuition for students who couldn’t afford to stay in school, paid bills for certain families in need and provided back to school supplies for students nearing the new school year.

“We also took a few families impacted by addiction to a Phillies game in April to try and bring some light and joy into their lives,” Dugan said. “We want them to know they have the support of the neighborhood.”

Although last year’s proceeds went to families who were nominated via word-of-mouth, Dugan believes moving forward there will need to be a form to fill out to nominate families, because so many families are in need and to ensure that the funds are being given out in a smart way.

“With the help of you all, maybe we can make a difference. Maybe we can change the path for this destructive lifestyle that our everyday people are being caught up in. We can start by making an effort to make this change happen and we feel like running in the streets of our community to raise awareness is a perfect start,” it states on the group’s Facebook event page.

On the day of the race, registration will begin at 8 a.m., and the opening ceremony will commence at 9:30 a.m. Early registration costs are $25 per racer, and can be purchased at: https://www.racemenu.com/events/148545-The-Pink-Elephant-5K-2017. The price to register the day of the event is $40, and all registration comes with a free T-shirt on the day of the race.

For more information on the Pink Elephant 5k, call Dugan at (267) 321–2060, or Taylor at (215) 913–8189.

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