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Writer / Jeff Owen

Photographer / Forrest Mellott

The way Erin Smith sees it, the Center Grove community rocks in so many ways. Great neighborhoods, schools, businesses, churches … and people. So why not celebrate our community with a big, healthy “block” party that also benefits local nonprofit organizations and trail projects?

“An event that just rocks out the southside!” says Smith with the enthusiasm and energy you would expect from someone who would come up with such an idea.

Rock the Block Run, scheduled for April 23 at the Center Grove High School complex, will feature traditional 5K and 10K events for runners and walkers trying to unload winter weight and/or getting ready for the Indy Mini Marathon in May. The event will also include a free Kids Run.
Rock The Block 5k/10K RunIT’S MORE THAN RUNNING
But there will be more ─ a lot more ─ than activity on the run/walk courses and handing out medals and ribbons to accomplished runners and walkers. Participants and their families also will enjoy a festival atmosphere of music, food and business exhibitors.

“Our goal is to bring our community together and create some great memories, especially with your children and/or your grandchildren,” said Smith, a White River Township resident and president of Spotlight Strategies.

“It’s going to be something special,” says Susan McCarty, a runner herself, Rock the Block Run organizer and co-owner at Spotlight Strategies.

“There are so many things to love about our community, but mostly it’s about the people, isn’t it?” Smith asks. “We’ve got lots of real go-getters in our area – motivated people who will band together in a moment to solve a problem, help a neighbor, serve others and support our youth. The spirit of community is alive and well here, so let’s celebrate!”

Of course, getting an event of this magnitude launched requires planning expertise and volunteer resources. It is the perfect opportunity for Smith and McCarty to utilize their own 501©(3), Pay It Forward Johnson County, to power the event. Pay It Forward Johnson County, in partnership with The Legend’s Golf Club, has raised more than $162,000 over the past five years for Johnson County charities through an annual golf event. Check out www.payitforwardjc.com to learn more.Group Photo

CHARITIES BENEFIT
Smith said the Rock the Block Run event seemed like a natural extension of Pay It Forward Johnson County’s mission. To qualify to benefit from the Rock the Block Run, area charities have to meet certain requirements. Besides being a 501©(3) or affiliated with the Center Grove Education Foundation, a benefiting charity must have an address in the Center Grove Community School Corporation district. Their mission must be to primarily serve the needs of children and families living in the school district, and they are required to register a minimum number of runners, walkers and volunteers.

The participating charities include Center Grove Boys Soccer, Center Grove Choir Parent Organization, Center Grove Cross Country Parent’s Club, Center Grove Education Foundation, Center Grove Elementary School PTO, Center Grove Orchestra Council, Center Grove Trojans Band Boosters, Center Grove Trojans Football Gridiron Club, Friends of the Johnson County Public Library, Mount Auburn United Methodist Church, Red Alert Robotics Parent Organization, Saints Francis & Clare Church and South Central Soccer Academy.

THE ROUTE
The race and walk route will begin at Center Grove High School and proceed south to West Smokey Road. The 5K participants will circle back to the high school along Streamside Drive while the 10K runners will continue to Saddle Club Road, south to Whiteland Road and west to Thompson Road. They will reconnect with Smokey Road and return to the high school via Streamside Drive.
Rock the Block Route_PTuxedo Brothers of Indianapolis will manage the race and walk. The respected company has handled more than 1,000 events in the past 30 years, most benefiting service and charitable organizations. Their programs include run/walks, triathlons, stair-climbs, marathons and other fitness activities throughout Central Indiana.

Organizers have worked with the Johnson County Commissioners and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department on a route that minimizes traffic and neighborhood disruptions. Deputies and volunteers will be directing traffic during the race that Saturday morning.

The registration fee for the 5K and 10K run is $30 (until April 21). Families can register three or more members for $25 each for the first two family participants and $20 for each additional one (through April 21). Runners and walkers can sign up online using the event’s website, RockTheBlockRun.org.

Besides planning the event details and securing resources, Rock the Block Run volunteers have been busy securing sponsors and promoting the event through social media.

The community can stay updated on the event through Facebook and Twitter pages set up by marketing volunteers. The social media channels will provide announcements about planned entertainment, activities and food options.

SPONSORS KEY TO SUCCESS
One of the biggest challenges for event planners was securing sponsors who could underwrite some of the costs, so the financial impact for the charities will be maximized. “The support from the business community has been amazing,” Smith said. “They saw what a unique opportunity this event is, and they stepped up!”

Presenting Sponsor is Franciscan St. Francis Health. Title Sponsor is Spotlight Strategies. Gold Sponsors include The Goddard School, Old National Bank and Raymond James ─ Adam Allen Financial Advisor.

Silver Sponsors include Indiana University Health, Anytime Fitness-Center Grove, Horizon Bank and Community Hospital South.

For more information, contact Smith at 317-697-1717 or info@rocktheblockrun.org.

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