Rain won’t keep them from the finish line

OKEECHOBEE — It was pouring rain on Saturday morning, Nov. 9, when a crowd of almost 100 runners gathered at Oakview Baptist Church for the fourth annual Finger Lickin’ 5K Kickin’ run/walk, but they weren’t about to let a little rain keep them from crossing the finish line. According to Open Hands Health Care Center’s office manager Tyna Futch, their goal this year was to have 100 runners and to raise $10,000, and they almost made it. They were very close, she said. If it hadn’t been raining, they very well might have surpassed that goal, considering how many showed up despite the weather. Even 91-year-old Celestina Silvas showed up to compete, but her son and daughter-in-law talked her into waiting this one out in the car. “Next year, si Dios quiere,” she said.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
In the over 40 category, Gene Digirolamo (left) came in first. Drew Silvas (not pictured) was second and Marc Murphy was third.

Open Hands had a group of people who worked as a team to put the race together, and praise God, they outdid themselves this year, said Stacy Pasquarella. “The race will help us glorify God by helping the uninsured.”

Tyna Futch said, “I had an awesome group of ladies who took all the burden and stress off me. They worked together so well. God has truly blessed our clinic with devoted brothers and sisters.”

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and the Okeechobee Police Department helped by leading, following and stopping traffic at crossroads.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
In the teen category, Daniel Phillips (center) came in first. Dakota Entry (right) was second and Callie Phillips was third. Daniel Phillips was also the overall winner, finishing first out of nearly 100 participants with a time of 20.51.

Daniel Phillips, 15, was the overall winner, coming in with a time of 20.51. He was one of four family members to place and win a turkey for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but considering Daniel has five brothers and a sister, those turkeys will probably come in handy.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
In the 18-39-year-old category, Dr. Mike Stephens (center) won first place. Chuck Piper (left) was second and Raulie Raulerson was third.

In the children’s category, Wyatt Phillips came in first place at 24.29. Chase Stinson was second at 29.04 and Judson Phillips was third at 29.19. In the teens category, Daniel Phillips took first at 20.51. Dakota Entry was second at 22.40 and Callie Phillips was third at 31.20, which was quite a comeback after suffering a serious leg injury during the summer. In the adult category, Dr. Mike Stephens was first at 23.30. Chuck Piper was second 24.46 and Raulie Raulerson was third at 24.50. In the senior adult category, Gene Digirolamo was first at 22.49. Drew Silvas was second at 24.28 and Marc Murphy was third at 26.18.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
In the 12 and under category, Wyatt Phillips (right) took first place. Chase Stinson (center) came in second and Judson Phillips was third.

Okeechobee County has about 7,000 uninsured, and Open Hands seeks to show they care by providing care to those people, free of charge. All proceeds from the 5K go toward this goal. The $25 registration fee provides $287 worth of medical care, which is up to about five office visits with labs for someone who needs help. At that rate, the almost $10,000 raised by the 5K will provide $114,800 worth of medical care, which is up to about 2,000 office visits with labs.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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