BIG STONE GAP — Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc. has issued its annual call to raise money for the organization’s Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly, beginning with the pace setting event in the form of a walkathon.
For 36 years, residents of all ages have gathered on the first Sunday in May for the walkathon, the major fund-raiser to assist older people confronting weather-related emergency situations during the winter months.
This year’s walkathon is set for May 6 at Union High School in Big Stone Gap. MEOC and its community partners are issuing a call for help to make this year’s walkathon the most successful one ever.
The Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly assists people 60 years old or older in Wise, Lee and Scott counties and the city of Norton with emergency home heating situations. Money for the Emergency Fuel Fund is raised solely from donations, contributions and fund-raising events such as the walkathon.
This past winter, or from the active run of the fund from October of last year through the end of March, MEOC’s fuel fund responded to 1,361 emergency situations. MEOC spent a record $209,850.29 to pay electric bills or buy coal, wood or propane, depending on the situation.
Organizations or businesses are encouraged to become involved as a community sponsor. Those contributing $5,000 or more will have names and logos on the back of the MEOC walkathon T-shirts, will be linked on MEOC’s Web site and Facebook page, and can receive free advertising on MEOC buses.
This year’s walkathon will begin at 2 p.m. at the high school for a 10-kilometer (6.1-mile) walk with the goal of raising $155,000. Every penny MEOC raises for its fuel fund goes to the fund; none is spent on administrative overhead.
The walk is a safe route for people of all ages, following the paved road connecting the high school with Powell Valley Primary School. There are no major hills, and walkers complete the walk at their own pace, and as much of the walk as they wish.
A celebration picnic is held immediately following the walkathon, and everyone who raises at least $100 is awarded a T-shirt.
To participate as a walker, contact MEOC for pledge forms. If you are unable to walk but would like to make a pledge, send contributions to: P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, Va. 24219. Designate pledges to the EFF/Walkathon program.
In case of inclement weather on May 6, a rain date is set for May 20. A postponement will be announced on all local radio stations, and staff will be available May 6 to take phone calls.
For more information about how to get involved or how to become a community sponsor call MEOC at (276) 523-4202 or 1-800-252-6362 and ask for Margaret Sturgill, Marilyn Pace Maxwell or Judy Miller.