116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Hot Cider Hustle Half Marathon and 5K is returning to Cedar Rapids later this month, and local nonprofit Families Helping Families — which is organizing volunteers for the race — still is in need of dozens of volunteers.
The race is put on by All Community Events, an Illinois-based event management company that partners with local nonprofits to organize races in cities across the Midwest. It starts at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 24 on Third Street SE, near NewBo City Market. Registration and packet pickup runs from 7 to 8 a.m.
Registration also is available in advance online. Those who wish to run or volunteer can sign up now at https://iowaruns.com/cedarrapidshotciderhustle.
Melissa Carlson, executive director at Families Helping Families, recently spoke with The Gazette about the need for volunteers and the ways the race can benefit kids in foster care.
Question: What is the Hot Cider Hustle?
Answer: The Hot Cider Hustle is a race — and there’s a half-marathon and a 5K — that is organized by All Community Events. … They also do the Turkey Trot, which is another big race that’s held on Thanksgiving morning. And, the thing that makes the Hot Cider Hustle unique is that after the race, everyone gets a mug of hot cider — and it comes in a cute little mug they can keep — and a caramel apple. Everyone will also get a T-shirt and (the half marathoners will get) a finishing medal.
Q: What is Families Helping Families’ involvement with the race?
A: So, we are in charge of recruiting volunteers to work the event on race day. One of the things that All Community Events does when it is organizing a race is reach out to local nonprofits in that city to recruit volunteers because the local nonprofits are local and known to the community and they usually have a volunteer base they can tap to help with the race. This is our second year organizing volunteers — our first year was 2019 and then, of course, there wasn’t a race in 2020 (due to COVID-19). So that’s our involvement — we are recruiting volunteers to work on race day, and it’s usually a good time. From what I remember of 2019, it was a really nice, cool October morning and the volunteers had a lot of fun participating.
Q: How many volunteers still are needed and what are they needed for?
A: We are still looking to recruit 20 or 30 volunteers, and people can sign up to volunteer up until the day before the race. Volunteer shifts start at 6:30 a.m. and really volunteers are the ones that make the race possible. They help with the setup, race registration, water stations, food distribution, they give out the medals at the finish line, they serve as course marshals to keep people on the right track, and they help with cleanup afterward. So they are a very important part of making the race successful, plus they get a free T-shirt for volunteering, so that’s a bonus.
Q: Does Families Helping Families benefit from the race at all?
A: Yes. The race does serve as a fundraiser for us. All Community Events donates $1,000 to our organization to organize the volunteers and then if we recruit more than 35 volunteers, they will donate $20 for every volunteer we recruit after that 35 mark. Those registering for the race can also use a discount code, which is FHF10, to get a 10 percent discount off the registration fee and when they do that, we get a donation that equals 10 percent of the registration fee. So, it’s a nice little fundraiser for us. We received a donation of $2,400, which is a nice sized-donation for us. We’re a small nonprofit. Our annual budget is $250,000 a year, and we don’t receive any state, federal or United Way funding, so we’re always grateful for any donation that we receive.
Q: What is Families Helping Families’ role in the community?
A: We’re a small nonprofit that helps kids in foster care. So, once a child is removed from their biological home by the Department of Human Services and placed in foster care — and that can be with a foster parent who has gone and taken classes and done training to become a certified foster parent, or it can be a relative that chooses to take them in or it could be a family friend — that child can come and take advantage of our services. All of our services are free to the children, and that includes a clothing closet here at our office where they can come and shop for clothes, socks, underwear. We also have a shoe voucher program which allows them to get one brand-new pair of shoes every year that they get to go pick out at Kohl’s. We help with school supplies, we help with haircuts and senior photos and lots of different stuff like that. We basically just want to help them live a normal — and I don’t really like the word normal — but have a normal childhood after they’ve experienced trauma.
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