Though the forecast days ahead of time threatened nearly 100 percent rain, the crowd participating in and attending the 3rd Annual Goodwill Industries-Suncoast Hippy Dash in Gulfport were touched only by partly cloudy blue skies on Saturday morning, May 19.
A total of 1,107 registered to participate in the Gulfport events and 69 people participated virtually.
Beginning at 8 a.m., runners took off in 5K or 8K chip-timed races followed by an 8:15 a.m. start for the one-mile “Walk, Woof & Roll” that included strollers and pets. The “Flower Child Fun Run” for little hippies started a little after 9 a.m. so parents participating in the earlier races would be able to watch their children.
Each registrant participating received a medal and winners received special awards.
New this year was the 8K race – using the Casino as a large in-door, air-conditioned and food service location – and the team event, said Chris Ward, Goodwill’s director of marketing.
“We’ve had more than 40 teams sign up and we’re giving a prize for the one with the most members.”
The Hippy Dash is now the local Goodwill’s main fundraiser of the year, she said.
Between the race registrations and sponsorships, the event raised $81,946, which is more than double the 2017 total.
“We are thrilled,” she said of the amount. “It’s going to go a long way to help out with Goodwill’s local programs.”
Goodwill supports people with barriers to employment such as those who have disabilities or who participate in a work-release program. The group also sponsors a job-connection center that helps people find jobs.
May 4, 2019 is the date for next year’s Hippy Dash in Gulfport that will once again include the Casino.
“It’s a perfect match for the city to partner with Goodwill because they do so much for people in need,” said Yolanda Roman, president of the non-profit Gulfport Senior Center Foundation that was partnering with organization for the event.
“I did the one-mile walk and I was happy to see more Gulfport residents taking part this year,” said Ward. “I talked to one lady who had three miniature dachshunds participating and they were just as cute as could be. They were enjoying being a part of the event. We’re very happy about that.”