Thursday afternoon the Ardmore Regional Park Authority presented the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma a check in the amount of $13,742. This sum amounts to half of the proceeds raised at the 2018 Chigger Chase, and Teresa Ervin, director of Ardmore Parks and Recreation, said this is a longstanding yearly tradition.
“The Family Shelter partners with us on the Chigger Chase, so we always split the proceeds with them,” Ervin said. She said the remaining half of the money stays at Regional Park where it is used for park and trail development.
Nancy Sjulin, co-chair of the Chigger Chase, said that the amount of funds raised this year is just shy of an all-time record. She attributes the financial success to the generosity of the race’s sponsors. She also said that presenting the check represents the end of several months of planning, preparation and hard work.
“We start planning everything in August,” Sjulin said. “We begin by raising money from sponsorships, and we work with a committee to come up with the logistics of the race.” She said this is actually one of the trickiest aspects of the committee’s job.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into mapping out the races and getting everything timed correctly,” Sjulin said. She pointed out that none of the races can interfere or overlap with one another, and that most importantly the entire event must be finished by 6 p.m. in order for the Festival of Lights to open. Fortunately, the committee has help from other organizations such as Girls on the Run and the Family Shelter itself.
“We have several meetings, and the Family Shelter actually goes out to all the area schools to help promote the children’s run,” Sjulin said. “We also go to community events throughout the fall with the chigger to try to spread the word.”
She said that while organizing the event is a lot of work, it truly is a labor of love.
“When you can give money to a nonprofit like the Family Shelter and provide funding for Regional Park, it’s well worth it,” Sjulin said.
Ervin said that she is extremely thankful for all of the work the planning committee, many of whom serve on the Regional Park board, puts into the event.
“This race really is a board-driven fundraiser,” Ervin said. “They’re the ones that organize it and find the volunteers. They volunteer themselves. Without the board, the event would not take place.”