Goodwill Hippy Dash Raises a Groovy $81,946

From center, Sandra Lewis and Gretchen Keehn, both of St. Petersburg, cross the starting line in the Walk, Woof & Roll event. “It was so much fun – a blast,” said Lewis.

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.”

Participating in the Walk, Woof & Roll event, from left, was Kimiko and Greg Andrews of Pinellas Park and Layla, their 2-1/2 year old rescue boxer. “My sister-in-law was registered to do the 5K and she told me about the Walk, Woof & Roll so I thought it would be great for my dog,” said Kimiko. “I came up with my hippy hair piece last night.” Greg said, “We love dogs and just wanted to get out and have a good time.”

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.”

Dee Anna Hays of Tampa, completes the 5K race over the finish line with help from her 2-year-old son Wyatt, who helped her at the beginning and end of the race. It’s the family’s third time participating in the Hippie Dash. “We love Goodwill,” said Hays. Wyatt usually rides for most of the race in a jogging stroller pushed by his dad, Josh, who is pictured behind with Wyatt’s 6-month-old sister Ruby.



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