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Events to raise money, boost spirits in Ford City

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 1:11 a.m.

Organizers of several upcoming events want to inject Ford City with a dose of community spirit.

The Ford City Renaissance Community Partnership is hosting its third annual Heart and Sole 5K and duathlon on Saturday. The event will help fund the town's Nov. 29 Light-Up Night, with its “When You Wish Upon a Star” theme. It acts as a precursor to the Ford City Street Fair on Aug. 30 and 31, which is hosted by FCRCP and the Ford City Fire Department.

“We're trying to get the community together and raise the spirit level,” said Barbara Klukan, who is a member of the FCRCP.

The town is struggling with financial woes as it seeks to find ways to build a water treatment plant and come up with a plan to repay a $580,000 federal grant it defaulted on.

“Ford City has gone through so much already,” Klukan said.

She and the other organizers hope family events like these will help boost people's moods. It offers a chance for volunteers to step up and lend a hand.

“If they can't run or bike, they can always help with registration, with course directions or by handing out water,” Klukan said.

FCRCP will use funds raised from the 5K registration fees and from its share of the Street Fair profits to help with Light-Up Night expenses such as entertainment, lighting and maintenance and banner brackets.

“We want everything to be free that evening,” Klukan said.

And just like in past years, Saturday's 5K event includes a duathlon race — which consists of a 5K run followed by a 5K bike race. Participants have an option to compete individually or as part of a two-member relay team.

People have started to register, including participants from Pittsburgh, Cranberry and as far away as Arizona, Klukan said.

But with the recent rainy weather, Klukan is keeping an anxious eye to the sky.

However, it's not the rain that worries Bill Oleksak, 66, of Sixth Avenue. It's the heat and humidity that often causes problems for athletes, he said.

He has run in 12 marathons since 1974 and plans to participate in the Heart and Sole 5K run.

“The weather just changes your strategy, like how hard you go out,” he said.

Thomas Prager, 63, of West Franklin will be competing in the duathlon. The Army veteran has 360 races under his belt since 1990.

“It's a nice race, and I don't have to go to Pittsburgh,” he said. “This is right in my back yard.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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