St. Patrick’s Day Race Promotes Diabetes Awareness

This weekend, many will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by donning their finest green colors and flocking to the bars throughout Boston. For those looking for a healthier alternative this Saturday, the Barton Center for Diabetes Education will host its annual St. Patrick’s Road Race/Walk in North Oxford, Mass.

“This is our 14th year hosting this race,” said Lindsay Charest, the special events coordinator for the Barton Center. “The race started as a way to raise money for scholarship funds for our diabetes camps for kids.”

With its roots dating back to 1932, the Barton Center is currently one of the largest independent camping and educational programs in the country dedicated to children who live with diabetes and the people who care for them. It is a year-round camp, retreat, and conference center that collaborates with organizations including the American Diabetes Association, UMass Memorial Health Center, and Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Charest’s role with the Barton Center includes planning various fundraising events for the center, including the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race this Saturday. The race is a four-mile course, with walkers starting at 12:30 p.m. and runners embarking at 1 p.m.

“Once they get back from their four-mile race, participants and fans will meet in the dining hall to have lunch and present an awards ceremony,” Charest said. “This event is a wonderful opportunity for people learning how to live with diabetes in their daily lives.”

The event has raised a significant amount of money for diabetes education and funding for the Barton Center’s camps. Powered by a website called FirstGiving, the St. Patrick’s Road Race gains many of its funds from donations online.

“We work directly with the non-profit website FirstGiving,” Charest said. “When people register to sign up for the race, they can also create an account and share personal stories of diabetes and why they are running in the race.”

This year’s 14th annual race has already exceeded Charest’s expectations: more people have registered this year than any other year in the race’s history. Currently, there are 166 pre-registered contestants, with more walk-in registrations expected on Saturday. The entry fee for the race starts at $25 for racers who pre-register and is $30 to register on the day of the race.

“We have currently raised about $17,500 for the event,” Charest said. “Through the FirstGiving website, families and kids running have raised all of the donations on their own.”

Besides the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, the Barton Center offers a number of fundraising events designed to increase financial aid for children with diabetes to attend their camps. As special events coordinator, Charest organizes other events besides the race, including the a Wiffle Ball tournament and a fall auction in October.

“There are quite a few fundraising events that I help coordinate throughout the year that are designed to raise financial aid for our diabetes camps,” Charest said. “Our next big fundraising event is the SLAMDiabetes Barton Classic Wiffle Ball Tournament on May 17. There are also other events throughout the year that support our organization, such as various golf tournaments and a motorcycle ride, which I also help coordinate.”

The St. Patrick’s Road Race is the Barton Center’s only race event each year. Charest and the rest of the Barton Center are very eager to hit the ground running on Saturday-embarking on the beginning of a festive St. Patrick’s weekend in Boston.

“I’m very excited to see the whole Barton Center community come together this weekend,” Charest said.

March 14, 2014