Following a successful heart transplant last fall, Cambria County native Craig Smith wanted a way to raise awareness about organ donation and help others facing a transplant.
By March, Smith and friend Derek Partsch had officially formed Second Chance Fundraising, a nonprofit organization they hope will not only raise money for organ donation awareness, but also medical assistance and college scholarships in the future.
The organization’s first event, the Second Chance 5K run/walk, is scheduled for Saturday with all proceeds from the race and an after party to benefit the Center for Organ Recovery and Education in Pittsburgh, a federally designated nonprofit that links donors, healthcare professionals and recipients for organ, tissue and cornea transplants.
Based on the amount of support received for the event’s first year, Smith said he hopes to make the race an annual fundraiser.
So far, more than 20 local businesses have sponsored the 5K in some way and 175 people have signed up to run or walk.
On race day, registration will begin at 9 a.m. at the Berwind Wayside Festival Park in St. Michael and the race will begin at 10 a.m. Registration is $25 per person.
Following the race, an after party at the grounds will include beer, food, music, raffles and door prizes.
Prizes for winners in several categories will be awarded and all participants will receive a gift bag after crossing the finish line.
Since planning the event, Smith said he’s been contacted from families as far as Virginia and Massachusetts interested in attending the race because the cause also is close to them.
“You’re surprised by how many people it does affect,” he said.
Though he insists he’s not one to be the center of attention, Smith said he plans to walk the race course while wearing a large heart costume.
“Anything to bring more attention to the event and raise more money for the cause,” he said.
As he waited for his transplant, Smith said he had overwhelming support from family and friends, but many don’t have the same luxury.
In the fall, he’d like to start another annual event that will collect money for local families facing unexpected medical costs.
To register for the event, purchase an event T-shirt or learn more about the Second Chance 5K or Second Chance Fundraising, visit www.secondchancefundraising.org.