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Local group awards $ 13,000 in scholarship

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A total of $ 30,000 from the proceeds of the Spa Running Festival was donated to three organizations, one of which awarded scholarships to 13 regional students.

The Running Festival, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Spa 10K in partnership with the 100th anniversary of Hot Spring National Park, presented $ 13,000 to the Spapacers Buzz Wilson Scholarship Program, the biggest winner of the year. The Arkansas Adult and Teen Challenge received $ 10,000 and the Friends of Hot Springs National Park was presented for $ 7,000.

Race director Cindy Baswell said the 2021 race “had more than 1,800 runners and walkers on behalf of 26 states” at the Spa Running Festival.

Buzz Wilson, the origin of the name of the scholarship program, has been an active member of the Spapacers and club president for many years. In 1996, Wilson climbed Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental United States, but he died suddenly of a heart attack “a few weeks later,” according to a release from an ongoing festival.

The scholarship program was created to honor Wilson and his contributions to the running community. This year, 13 students were awarded scholarships on the mission of the Pacers for “being involved in sports, running and fitness and exemplifying the principles.” statement. The scholarships were received by My Noble of the Arkansas School of Mathematics and Science, Cutter Morningstar Sierra Wilmas, Hannah Newcom of Hot Springs, Isaac Gas and Noazets of Jesseville, Emaverick and Dylandue of Lakeside, and Lake Hamilton. Evan Armitage, Connor, Zeke McCain and Ethan Smith, and Brayden and Barrett James, students of two regional home schools.

“We receive so much money that it’s $ 1,000 per person individually, but we’re giving out a lot of money in bulk, so we have a small amount of money. Without giving $ 1,000, “Enjoy it,” said Baswell. “We implemented a place where they had to show (the chairman of the scholarship committee) Lori (Saracini) admission to the school, that is, some verification at the place where they entered the university. Send them. Give them money. “

According to Baswell, the scholarship program has come a long way from the beginning. Since 2009, the program has awarded over $ 94,000 in scholarships.

“There weren’t many applicants when we started it, and sometimes we barely gave $ 500,” she said. “I hate to say that, but that was true. But the race wasn’t making such money at the time either. You need to keep it all in mind. . “

According to Baswell, schools usually receive scholarship applications during January, and scholarships are usually announced in late April.

At one point, only students who were members of Spa Pacers were allowed to apply, but that requirement no longer applies. Basswell explained that while some athletes are members of the club, some past athletes have only attended to be eligible for scholarships.

“They became members of the Spa Pacer for a year and didn’t join again after that,” Baswell said. “So we’ve removed it from the requirements. They don’t necessarily have to be members of the spa pacer, they don’t have to be involved in the spa pacer, but if you’re quite active in a cross-country or track team, you So the majority of them will at least participate in the Spa Running Festival. Some of them started with a squirting race and continue to race every year. “

According to Baswell, this year’s scholarship was the largest since it began to set records at least in 2009.

“In 2019, we gave $ 12,000,” she said. “We donated $ 11,000 in 2018. 2020 was a time when COVID was a hit, so net income wasn’t that high, so we cut it that year, but it’s usually in the $ 10,000 range. Depends on the overall net profit. From the race. “

According to Baswell, scholarship funds and adult and teen challenge programs are usually awarded about the same amount, but due to the large number of runners graduating from local schools, scholarship programs offer more. received.

Arkansas’ Adult and Teen Challenge is a non-profit organization that has a long-standing partnership with the Spa Running Festival, starting with former executive director Tim Culbreth and following his successor Stephan DeLorenzo. The organization supports the Spa Running Festival with race-day logistics, including delivery of supplies to aid stations, course marking, and registration.

Friends of Hot Springs National Park is a non-profit organization specializing in the development and management of parks in the Hot Springs area.