Even before it became a state highway, Ronald Reagan Parkway was a course for the annual Run the Reagan charity run. The race, which features a ½ Marathon, 10K, 5K and a 1K fun run, begins near Eastside Medical Center at the corner of Ronald Reagan and Presidential Circle.
The race was formed when County Commissioner Judy Waters arranged for the parkway to be closed an entire day so racers could run safely. And so, Run the Regan was formed.
Now passed its 25-year, State Representative Shelly Hutchinson presented a resolution from the State of Georgia, Run Reagan for its ongoing to the community.
A 501(c)3 in its own right, Run the Reagan started as a fundraiser in 1994. Two of the current are President Warren Auld and Parks Mann, who is one of the founding members. Says Warren Auld, “Our vision is to not only be the premier road race in Gwinnett but to be a destination for families and communities to participate and experience Run the Reagan every year the last Saturday in February.”
The Gwinnett Community (GCC), a volunteer-based not for profit that provided reduced-cost care, was one of the race’s first. Both Mann and Auld served on the Board of Directors for the clinic until its doors closed in 2015.
As the race grew, it took on more causes and has sponsored a total of eight charities.
All told, Run the Reagan has donated more than $1.5 million, to Mann, who has kept of their effort. In 2016, the Race divided it proceeds evenly between three charities with a sum of $14,000 each. In 2017, the same three $20,000, and in 2018, each received $18,000.
In recent years, Run the Reagan has partnered with the Lilburn Co-operative Ministry, providing both assistance and donated food items to the Co-Op throughout the year and during the summer when their need is most critical; when children are out of school. They also support the Gwinnett Southeast Co-Op and the Brookwood Schools Foundation.
“We hope to beat our from last year,” Mann said a day before the event which was held on February 23 and began at 9:00 a.m.
Mann estimates they raised $70,000 from the 2019 race, and close to 2,000 runners showed up despite cloudy weather.
For 2019, Run the Reagan teamed up with four different school clusters — Brookwood, Berkmar, Parkview Central. The schools brought entertainment in the way of drum lines and cheerleaders, and for 100 runners, the school will receive anywhere from one to five percent of the net proceeds in addition to an amount for the of runners who signed up as part of the schools’ teams. In the past, these funds were used for grants to purchase items like iPads and equipment; specifically by teachers.
“A lot of people make this,” said Mann who estimates a of 60,000 people have participated with Run the Reagan.
“We’ve had a long-standing where we provide space for them to do package pickups and in the store,” David Skates, Store Director at Academy Sports in Snellville, said. “We’re glad to with the Run the Reagan. We’ve been able to provide financial, and in exchange, we have extra traffic in the store.”
The Lawrenceville Primrose Daycare on Five Forks Trickum is another annual sponsor, having volunteers to pour water each of the 25 years. And for the 2019 race, they donated $10,000 to the cause.
“I’ve been impressed with the work Run organizers have done over the years and all the charities they’ve supported,” Gil, owner of Primrose Daycare on Five Forks in Lawrenceville said. “I like how much they give back. They’re also very organized and include a lot of people in the community.”
“Eastside Center is our title sponsor, says Warren Auld. “Over the past 25 years, they have donated over $330,000. In addition, their nurses and staff have always participated as volunteers. Eastside Medical Center has been a great longtime supporter for Run the Rea-gan and we look forward to with them on next years race.”
“Run the Reagan holds a special meaning for Eastside Medical as we have been a supporter of this organization for 25 years,” says Trent Lind, Chief Executive Officer, Eastside Medical Center. “It has been remarkable to see how Run the Reagan has evolved over the years to become what it is today.
We are proud to partner with a community organization that gives back to our community in such a profound way and our team looks forward to and supporting this event year over year.” “We are appreciative of Britt’s Home Furnishings, ER Snell, Stone Mountain Volkswagen and Mazzawi Dentistry in Snellville for their with Run the Reagan,” adds Auld.
As Gwinnett’s road race, Run the Reagan has a legacy that reaches far wider than the on which it spans – Mann has kept track of the race’s economic impact, down to the last cup of water poured.
“We’ve poured over 7,500 gallons of water and 36,000 cups of water over the 25 years,” said Mann, both the volunteers who man the eight water stations along the trek as well as Coca-Cola who provided 200 cases of water and Powerade for the 2019 race.
Mann also calculated they have distributed an average of 2,300 breakfast bars each year, along with fruit and snacks, many of which were donated or paid for by Kroger.
“We [also] need to thank the City of Snellville for their generous support and especially the Gwinnett County Commissioners for closing the road for us every year!” Mann said of the parkway, which extends into Lilburn at Pleasant Hill Road and unfolds West of Eastside Medical in Snellville.
For more history or information about the race, visit the website: www.runthereagan.net