The 6th Annual HBCU Alumni 5K Run/Walk in support for health awareness and scholarships begins this Saturday at Grant Park.

“One of the things we notice when you look at our community is under representation in races and marathons. It is not something that is embraced in our community,” said Daniel Ford president of the Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance. “For a lot it’s their first time and once they participate they look for more to participate in. People get plugged in to the whole race community, which leads to a healthier lifestyle.“

For the past five years, the Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance (AHBCUAA) has galvanized hundreds of HBCU alumni, family and friends, according to HBCUAlumniAtlanta.org,

The Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance has existed in Atlanta for 11 years and there are 41 alumni member chapters in total.

Central State University has a chapter located in Atlanta and members of Central State’s alumni chapter will be volunteering during the race.

“We also have members signed up to run,” said Hope Norris, vice president of the Central State University Atlanta Alumni Chapter. “ This is our second year participating in the 5k.”

In last year’s 5k Run/Walk a gross $80,000 was raised for scholarship funds for the 41 member chapters and more than $200,000 in total.

Scholarships go to metro-Atlanta students attending HBCUs every year, which is awarded through the member chapter.

Kentucky State University, another HBCU with a chapter based in Atlanta and part of the alliance that hands out scholarships, will have a presence at the race. Michael Hudson president of the Kentucky State University Atlanta Alumni Chapter was in town and discussed the importance of the occasion.

“The purpose of the Kentucky State University chapters is to be able to connect and network with other members or alumni who went to Kentucky State,” said Hudson. “We also offer a scholarship to Kentucky State students who are in Atlanta.”

Distinguished alumni attend the event and one, who is named Grand Marshal, gives the welcome address and sounds the starting gun. This year’s Grand Marshal is John Grant, CEO of 100 Black Men Atlanta.

Previous Grand Marshals include: 2009 Grand Marshal Mayor Shirley Franklin (Howard), 2010 Grand Marshal, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell (Morehouse) and 2012 Grand Marshal Broadway and Film Director Kenny Leon (Clark Atlanta).

“The 5k run helps tremendously. It helps those to get out and run, it gives you the encouragement to continue to run and stay fit,” said Hudson.

The theme, “Run For You, Run For Them, Run For Us,” highlights the event’s three-fold purpose: Run For You embodies the health aspect and the importance of getting active, Run For Them represents the scholarship dollars raised for future students of the participating HBCUs, and Run For Us represents the strength and success we achieve when we work collectively, according to HBCUAlumniAtlanta.org

“It definitely lets people know that African Americans do participate in events like the 5k. It’s not something that people see often having African Americans run in these events and it also lets others know we do participate in other sports rather than football and basketball,” said Norris.

Another stated goal of the run is to increase awareness for healthier living, helping African Americans steer clear of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.

“The Primary purpose is to raise money for students in metro Atlanta who are attending historically black colleges and promoting a healthy lifestyle to the HBCU community and African American community through health care,” said Ford.

There will be a $1000 in scholarships given out to four students, which are worth $250 each, on race day.

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