The 27th annual Open Door Classic to be held Saturday

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 6, 2014 

There will be a special guest at the 27th annual Open Door Classic Saturday morning.

Bishop James R. King Jr., leader of the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, will be in attendance.

Open Door Community House Executive Director Kim Jenkins said King is concerned about poverty and is involved in the church's role in eliminating it. The vision statement of the nonprofit Open Door in Columbus is to "eliminate poverty in our area."

The classic, which includes a 5K race and walk along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, is Open Door's only public fundraiser. Proceeds from sponsor, patron and participant donations support Open Door, whose mission is to "empower impoverished people to meet their full potential as children of God."

Registration for both events will be held in the Synovus Center Courtyard along the RiverWalk.

The 5K race is 8 a.m. with registration at 7:30 a.m. The registration fee is $25 and all participants will receive a T-shirt.

The walk is at 9 a.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. Participants may walk any distance they choose. All ages and fitness levels are welcome. There is no registration fee for the walk but participants who make a contribution of at least $25 will receive a T-shirt. The walk will go on rain or shine. "We've walked in the snow," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the goal is to raise $100,000. Last year, the event raised $88,000, double the amount from the prior year. And the number of sponsors continues to grow. "I believe the first classic was at Cooper Creek and made $198," Jenkins said.

Board Chairman Chandler Riley said the money raised is essential to Open Door continuing to provide service to the less fortunate.

Jenkins said Open Door, a United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley partner, operates on a budget of about $1.5 million. She said thousands have used the facility since its establishment by a group of Methodist women in a church basement 79 years ago.

"The classic is an event for the whole family," she said. "It is a fun way for men, women and children to get some exercise and help their neighbors at the same time."

Susan Sealy, director of development, said Open Door helps people in several ways. "Another reason for this event to make people aware of what Open Door offers," she said.

Just a few of those things are a showering program for the homeless, a transition home for women in crisis and the Open Door Institute, which teaches life skills and culinary arts. There are computer classes and GED training.

There is also the Circles program. Circles is part of a national movement to end poverty one family at a time through intentional relationships across economic class lines.

Six women have gone through Circles at Open Door. "These women have achieved a lot and I think have a bright future in front of them," said Circles coach Phiffer Reed.

Reed said she expects the women to participate in the classic.

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