The Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference helped “change the world” with the 2013 Louisiana Skeeter Run, consisting of 10 events with 5K/1-mile runs held simultaneously in 10 cities throughout the state.
The Mar. 2 event attracted 2,500 runners, walkers and volunteers, and raised awareness and more than $75,000 for Imagine No Malaria. After-event celebrations were held in every city, with foods such as sausage biscuits and jambalaya, and entertainment ranging from a church praise band in Lafayette to a performance by the Centenary College Choir in Sulphur.
Overall and age category race winners were given trophies and medals bearing a whimsical “skeeter” graphic that serves as part of the event logo. Red T-shirts, sporting that same logo, were given to all registrants. Skeeter Run goodie bags were distributed to every participant, filled with Imagine No Malaria wristbands, white and red water bottles emblazoned with the event logo, and brochures giving information about malaria and the denomination-wide Imagine No Malaria initiative.
A radio and billboard media plan-implemented through an Impact Community grantfrom United Methodist Communications — along with 30 TV and radio interviews helped to promote the event statewide.
The Skeeter Run attracted community members, dedicated runners and “swat teams” from many of the local United Methodist churches throughout the Louisiana Conference. One special group included the members of “Team Andy,” who walked and ran in several cities and made donations in memory of Andy McLaurin, son of the Rev. Mike McLaurin and his wife LuAn McLaurin. The Rev. McLaurin is the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Ponchatoula, La.
“This cause is dear to my heart because LuAn and I were in Liberia four years ago, and we saw lots of children without nets and at risk for malaria,” the pastor said. “We knew they were in great danger. Through the Skeeter Run, Louisiana helped make a difference.”
*Backstrom is the director of communications for the Louisiana Conference