BY ARIEL GUILLORY — Attention, Hyattsville: Zombies are coming! The Hyattsville Elementary Zombie Run, an event that raises money for local schools, is happening this Saturday in Magruder Park.
Though this is only the second year that this event has occurred, it has proven to be tremendously popular among students of local schools, their families, and other members of the Hyattsville community.
Motivated by the desire to hold a fundraiser that was larger than their previous efforts, Kevin Blackerby and his wife, Christine, who are parents of two students at Hyattsville Elementary School (HES), came up with the idea of hosting a themed 5K run for all community members to participate in.
“We knew the Azalea Classic was successful, so we liked the idea of a run,” Kevin Blackerby said. “My wife and I had participated in a themed 5K run in Lexington, Ky., where we met, and liked the fun a themed run brings. Of course, we didn’t want to plan anything in the spring when University Park hosts the Azalea Classic so we chose the fall and then October because we could have fun with the theme.”
As an officer of Hyattsville Elementary’s PTA, Blackerby was in a unique position to not only come up with the idea of hosting a 5K run but also to organize this event into a fundraiser for his children’s school.
Three runs are scheduled for Saturday morning.
The 1K Family Fun Run will start at 8:45 a.m. and is for the whole family.
“Local real estate agent and sponsor Ann Barrett will kick us off with starting the race. There will be a warm-up period before the race. All kid participants receive a commemorative Zombie Run dog tag for running,” said Blackerby.
The 1M Kids Challenge will begin at 9 a.m. According to Blackerby, HES Principal Teresa Bey will kick off the race. This is a timed race that both children and parents can participate in. All runners receive a commemorative dog tag and 1st place winners in each age group get a medal.
The third race will be the Hyattsville Zombie Run, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. This race is a US Track and Field Certified 5K that winds its way through Hyattsville.
“This will be a timed race, and a representative from our biggest sponsor, the MIL Corporation, will kick off the race. Medals will be awarded in age groups,” Blackerby said. “We also hand out awards for best costume and although wearing a costume is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged.”
Check out photos from last year’s event for costume inspiration here.
In 2016, the first year the race occurred, 475 runners participated.
As of Wednesday evening, 193 runners are registered for the 5K race, and a total of 236 runners have registered for the 1K race and the 1M race. These numbers are expected to increase as the event draws nearer.
“Last year, in the last five days before the race we had over 200 people register, with 50 of those being on race day in the middle of a rain storm. So those numbers will go up,” said Blackerby.
Encouraged by the success of the race last year, Blackerby and the other PTA members at HES wanted to include other schools this year by giving them the opportunity to raise money by volunteering at the event in various capacities or by participating in the race.
“We’ve always seen the race as a community event,” Blackerby said. “The first year we didn’t have the bandwidth and, to be honest, we weren’t sure if we would even cover the cost of the race. But we have incredible volunteers and strong PTA and we pulled it off. So in the second year we wanted to bring in as many other schools as we could so that they could use this event to help out in their own schools.”
When kids sign up to run, they can choose their own school as their charity, and set up their own race website page to send to their family and friends.
“When the race is over, we will tabulate how much was raised for which school and cut those schools/PTA’s a check,” Blackerby said. Also, for every $10 raised, the student gets their name in a raffle to win a bike from race sponsor Arrow Bicycle, a prize pack of movie tickets, a new Kindle Fire and other prizes.
Fundraising opportunities have been extended to the following schools: Hyattsville Elementary School, Hyattsville Middle School, Edward M. Felegy Elementary School, Rosa Parks Elementary School, University Park Elementary, Roger Heights Elementary School, St. Jerome Academy, William Wirt Middle School, Nicholas Orem Middle School, Northwestern High School, Bladensburg High School, Cesar Chavez School, and Glenarden Woods Elementary School.
Several roads in the area will be shut down until at least 11 a.m. on race day. Check this map for a full listing of road closures. There will be no parking allowed on the race route on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Parking is available at the WSSC Building, immediately adjacent to the Magruder Park entrance.
Volunteers are still needed to help set up the race route, serve as race marshals, set up tables, chairs and tents, and clean up afterwards. Zombie Run volunteers can sign up at here and are encouraged to dress like a zombie! The PTA will have Prince George’s County Public School Student Service Learning Verification forms on hand for students interested in earning service hours.
As was proven last year — when zombies and zombie lovers ran in the cold rain — this event is rain or shine. So far, Saturday’s weather looks much more pleasant.
For more information about the Zombie Run, or to register for one of the races, visit http://hyattsvillees-pta.org/zombierun/.