By the end of Saturday’s color run benefit, nearly everyone attending looked like a rainbow had exploded on them – with pink, orange, green, blue, yellow and more dusting their hair, skin and clothes. And all of them were having fun, laughing, smiling, playing and dancing to the music.
The color run, the brainchild of Anthony Parigi, was held to rain money for the three families affected by a tragic shooting and fire in the Ronda community earlier this year, and despite rainy weather and a soggy gravel dust trail as the walking and running surface 99 people registered for the event, put on by Sports Ministries out of Mississippi.
“It’s just unbelievable. Not just this, but the outpouring of our neighbors, friends, family since then,” said Kent Suddreth, whose home was burned down during the incident and who was hospitalized after a flare exploded on his stomach. “To know somebody would come from Mississippi.
“Everybody looks like they are having a good time,” said Suddreth, who later was covered in pink color run paint himself.
“We’re all getting back on our feet and healing, both mentally and physically,” he said of those involved, which included himself, his two children and wife, his mother, the Myers family and Wilkes County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Russell and his family who live just four miles from where the incident took place. Both Zach Myers and Russell suffered gunshot wounds in the incident, which ended in the shooter’s death by Wilkes County Sheriff’s officers.
“We are supposed to start rebuilding our house next week,” added Suddreth, who said it will sit behind where the first house was on the same property. “The good Lord blessed us. We don’t have any enemies.”
The home is being built by Opie Newman, and Suddreth said his family, who has been living in a cabin owned by his brother, is looking forward to getting settled in their new home.
And the outpouring of care Suddreth spoke of wasn’t limited to people from the local area. “We had clothes sent all the way from Maine from people who saw it on the news and on the internet.
“It’s hard to believe there are so many people who care,” he said. “That’s probably what kept us from going insane.”
A supper was held Friday night at the Elkin Rescue Squad for the families involved, the sponsors of the run, the reality TV stars who came to town to take part and the Sports Ministries crew who came from Mississippi to put on the event.
“These guys putting this on, Sports Ministries are good people,” Suddreth said.
“I think it’s a blessing we have this kind of community that comes together to help each other,” said Becky Russell, wife of Sgt. Russell.
Sgt. Russell said he just had left his home for work the morning of the incident when he responded.
Danny Todd, founder of Sports Ministries, said Saturday’s color run was definitely hurt by the rain, “but with all the other festivities going on, I think we had a great turnout.”
In his fun, carefree and joking way, Parigi started out the pack of runners and then just a few feet ahead of the starting line, made a U-turn back toward the band shell at Elkin Municipal Park. While several people were giving him a hard time about cheating, Parigi did go on to complete the course and was covered in the rainbow array of colors like everyone else in the end.
“I think today was awesome for the rain and conditions,” said Parigi of the event. “We had a great turnout.
“We got wet and dirty. I got to hang out with my CMT family and friends. And I was the first to start and first done,” he said, laughing about the “cheating” incident.
He said if another time arises when a fundraiser like a color run is needed in the community, “I definitely think we can do it again.”
Brittany Eller of Cavu Printing was a sponsor of the event, providing all the posters, T-shirts and marketing materials. She said she got on board with the project, “because I wanted to be part of the community to give back to the people who were affected by such a tragic event.”
Reality TV stars from CMT’s Redneck Island and Party Down South attending included Brittany Woodle, Parigi, John Tart, Jeremy Morris, Karynda Worchester, Cody Hodge and Taylor Anderson. Sports Ministries volunteers included Todd, Jared Cavanaugh, Shelby Bishop, Mallory Todd, Jean Frye and Eller.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.