Second annual 10k Race 4 FISH takes place Oct. 16
Bad weather prevented participants who signed up for last year’s race from
actually hitting the pavement, but after a year of careful planning,
organizers, sponsors and more than 500 projected runners are hopeful that
the second annual 10k Race 4 FISH will be a success, come rain or shine.
“This is a fabulous event and it is the main fundraiser for FISH. With the increase of people that we’re helping — which was more than 900 individuals and families in 2009 — this is a very important event for us,” said FISH President Maggi Feiner. “And so far, the community support has been phenomenal. FISH could not exist if it weren’t for the support of such a great community.”
“FISH has been around for nearly 30 years and was formed under the premise of neighbors helping neighbors, and that’s still the underpinning of our mission today,” said Bill Fellows, who will become the president of FISH in
January of next year.
Of the FISH clientbase, 71 percent are elderly and 13 percent are children.
Services include transportation to and from medical appointments, meals on wheels delivery, health equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs, reassurance phone calls and home visits, all of which are handled by 195
dedicated volunteers. But a couple of years ago, FISH saw the need to introduce new services.
“When the economy started to get difficult, it drove us to open a walk-in
center on the island, and in that walk-in center we have a food pantry.
We’re now also providing emergency financial assistance for basic human needs, like rent and medical bills,” Fellows said. “We have approximately 100
families that are currently taking advantage of the food pantry and the
emergency financial assistance.”
FISH is also a designated United Way house, which gives the organization
access to many other social service agencies in Lee County, affording FISH
the opportunity to bring enhanced services, such as Healthy Start, to the
The organization’s revenue breaks down into 10 to 12 percent coming from
events like the 10k, 36 percent coming from grants and 52 percent coming
from individual donations.
But, as Fellows pointed out, FISH clients are on island year-round, whereas
most of the organization’s generous donors tend to be snowbirds.
“This presents a challenge in that our revenue tends to be seasonal. Our
largest fundraiser,the 10k Race 4 FISH, takes place when our revenue is at
its lowest and our clients’ needs are greatest,” Fellows said. “Our
community is tremendously supportive. This year we’re planning for over 500 runners and we want to offer a huge thank you to everyone involved —
sponsors, volunteers and participants.”
FISH 10k committee co-chair Joel Soobitsky came up with the idea of a race
last year after talking with two avid island runners, Robert Coscia and
“They showed me a picture of them running across the Golden Gate Bridge, and that’s what got me interested in doing this as a fundraising event for
FISH,” Soobitsky said. “Last year we got rained out, but we had a good
time in spite of the weather.”
Not to be discouraged, the 10k committee began working on this year’s race
almost as soon as last year’s event concluded and, in addition to hammering
out complex details like sponsorship, route mapping and of course, getting
runners to sign up, Soobitsky said that a lot of positive thinking and finger-crossing has taken place over the past year.
“We’ve got all the clergy on the island praying for good weather on the day of the race,” he said. “The committee has been excellent this year and we couldn’t do it without the Fort Myers Track Club. They’re really experienced at this, and will ensure a professiomal event.”
And while the main goal of the 10k is to benefit FISH, that doesn’t mean
runners won’t receive recognition for their hard work.
“C.C. Caldwell designed the award medallions with shells that we obtained from Seashells.com. She’s painted them gold, silver and bronze and they really look great,” Soobitsky said, noting that members of the FISH board and representatives from the City of Sanibel will hand out 98 awards at the
completion of the race. Winners and pre-registered participants — some from as far away as California — are all guaranteed a t-shirt.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. The runners are all excited and many of them
are coming across the bridge to train on our route,” Soobitsky said.
Runners who don’t live on the island but want to participate in the 10K Race
4 FISH, Soobitsky added, are eligible for a discounted stay at Periwinkle
Trailer Park the night before the race. Call Dick Muench at Periwinkle Park,
471-1433, for more details.
“We want as big a turnout as we can get to help FISH,” said 10k committee
co-chair Ed Ridlehoover. “It’s all about giving back to the community and
the people on the island that need the help. Of course, there are all kinds
of ways to support FISH other than financially — picking up food donations
from different donors or establishments, delivering meals on wheels, driving people to doctor’s appointments, delivering medical equipment or even just
answering phones at the walk-in center.”
While most of the major sponsorship opportunities have passed, there are
still a couple of options left for island businesses that want to contribute
to the 10k race.
“For $50, you can still get a vendor table at our expo at the Community House, or you can be a ‘Friend of FISH’ sponsor for $250 and receive
recognition in the FISH newsletter,” said Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of
Commerce Marketing Director Bridgit Stone-Budd. “All sponsorship dollars go
to benefit FISH and this race is a great way to support your local
community. So, get out there and run — or walk — for a good cause!”
For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact FISH board
member Blanaid Colley at Blanaid@hillgate.biz or 472-3400.
Pre-registration for the race is $25. Entry forms are available for download
at www.FISHofSanibel.com or www.FtMyersTrackClub.com. Participants can also pick up an entry form at the FISH Walk-in Center, 1630 Periwinkle Way.
Day-of registration, which costs $30, begins at 6:30 a.m. and the race begins at 7:30 a.m.
A vendor expo will take place from 7 a.m. to noon and donations for the FISH
food pantry — such as food items, paper products and toiletries — will
gladly be accepted on the day of the event at the race start location, the
Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. Additional parking is
available across from the Community House at the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse
For more information about FISH, go to www.FISHofSanibel.com