Dogs, walkers, joggers, bikers, babies in strollers. A Columbus State University officer on a Segway. Hot dogs, music and -- unlike in 2008 -- no fluke snow.
Today’s forecast is sunny and warm for the 24th Annual Walk Classic, which benefits Open Door Community House on Second Avenue.
It begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. at Open Door, 2405 Second Ave. “Walk-ins” are welcome. The event has steadily increased in popularity, and giving, since the inaugural walk in 1987.
“It wasn’t that long ago when we weren’t making that much,” said the Rev. Kim Jenkins, Open Door’s executive director. “The amount of support and the people has just exploded.”
In 1999, Open Door raised $4,119. In 2005, $20,330 was raised and by 2009, the amount more than doubled to $42,011. This year’s goal is $42,000 and 400 walkers.
The walk (or run or cycle, if you prefer) is a 4.2-mile course through uptown Columbus and along both Chattahoochee riverwalks in Columbus and Phenix City. The route ends at Open Door for live music by the Pilgrimage Band, door prizes and hot dogs provided by the Heavens’ Saints Motorcycle Ministry.
Pets are welcome, too. The “Puppies on Parade” feature will include awards.
Open Door is affiliated with the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, as well as the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.
This year, two confirmation classes are participating: St. Luke and Wynnton United Methodist churches. However, the St. Luke class is on retreat in Savannah this weekend and will walk there this morning to help support it from afar. One of the St. Luke students is 11-year-old Carley Dudley.
“I’m doing this because I think it’s for a good cause and we’re raising money for them,” said Carley, who’s in sixth grade at St. Luke School.
Beth Parr teaches the confirmation class at Wynnton UMC.
In addition to teaching her sixth-graders about missions in overseas places, Parr told them “there are things we can do here that make a difference,” Parr said. The class has made posters for today’s event and will tour Open Door after the walk.
Most people have gotten pledges for the walk ahead of time. But people who show up today may simply donate. And, $20 or more gets you a T-shirt.
“All money raised helps to fund the vital ministries Open Door provides to our community – to those who live in poverty or who are homeless,” Jenkins said. “This is a fun day in a family-friendly atmosphere.”
“The mission of Open Door is to meet basic needs and to empower low-income persons in our area to realize their full potential as children of God through ministries for children and youth in the Mathews Promise Academy, a parenting education program, a transition home for women in crisis, a senior adult ministry, case management for homeless women, a clothing bank, a chaplaincy program, a showering program for the unsheltered homeless, Family Support Services, and the Open Door Institute, a culinary and life skills training program for homeless and low-income persons,” according to its mission statement.
Last year marked the 75th anniversary of Open Door.