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Bunny walk hops to success for Miracle League of Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
More than 400 participants turned out for this year's Miracle Bunny Trail 5K, whose proceeds benefit the Miracle League of Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands.
MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
More than 400 participants turned out for this year's Miracle Bunny Trail 5K, whose proceeds benefit the Miracle League of Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands.

Braving the chilly temperatures, more than 400 participants from all over the area took part in the second annual Miracle Bunny Trail 5K walk and run held last weekend at the Penn State Fayette Eberly Campus.

The event is now held each spring with all proceeds benefiting the Miracle League of Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands.

“We had about 100 more participants this year than last year,” event coordinator and league board member Josh Scully said of the 425 walkers and runners who took part in the event. “The turnout was great for us. This 5K has not only helped our cause but increased our exposure to the community. This league has existed in some form for over 20 years, but it's really been the last three years that have provided opportunities and inroads for us to begin and sustain some real growth.”

The event drew hundreds from all over the area as well as participants who traveled great distances to take part in the walk.

“We came from Fairmont,” Bill Carnes said of his trip from West Virginia to take part in the event. “We heard about this from some friends and thought we'd take advantage of the nice sunny morning and get some exercise for a good cause.”

Scully said that in addition to the event participants, dozens of children and volunteers helped to round out the day.

“When you include the volunteers we had present, we had 500 people there in support of the Miracle League, which I am truly in awe of and, at the same time, extremely grateful for the support the community has continued to demonstrate for our cause,” Scully said, adding that the event raised an impressive amount of money for the league. “With our handful of expenses considered, we raised about $9,000.”

The 5K has become the biggest fundraiser for the organization, who have enabled dozens of handicapped children in the area the ability to play and enjoy a fun game of baseball at their special field in Bailey's Park in Uniontown.

The field was opened late last summer and the proceeds from the event will go toward the continuation of the league's plans to make the field better and easier for the children to enjoy.

“The money raised will go toward our current objective, which is to resurface our field in Uniontown's Bailey Park with a latex-free rubberized surface that will be safe for our players,” Scully said. “There will be no obstructions and the field will be handicap accessible. We want to this to happen within three years, and we are well on our way after a year of very successful fundraising a great deal of community support and volunteer involvement.”

The group plans to continue the event annually and sends out thanks to all its patrons and also to its sponsors who helped to make the event possible, and since it is growing in size, are also thinking of changing the location.

“Last year's race was planned in three months, while we had an entire year to work on this race and registration and the morning's events in general went much smoother this year. We want to keep making progress in that regard, especially since the participation increased, Scully said. “We thought we had a good turnout last year, and this year that number increased by 25 percent. I would love for us to sustain that growth. However, although we've enjoyed our experience the last two years with Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus, there is some discussion that we may have outgrown that setting. So, our committee is working on exploring new sites for next year's race.

“If there is a city or organization in our service area interesting in hosting we'd be interested in listening. However, we have some ideas, and we're really excited about some of the possibilities.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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