Photo: Tyler Harrell, Erin Halstad and Jonathan Ford (pictured, from left) gather for a photo prior to participating in the Naked Pig triathlon on August 21 in Rainbow City. The event was a benefit for the local C.A.R.E.S program.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
The inaugural Etowah C.A.R.E.S. Naked Pig Triathlon garnered the community’s interest on August 21 with eager participants demonstrating their support for a worthy cause. With the help of generous sponsors and caring individuals countywide, the nonprofit organization’s triathlon proved a success, representing the dedicated efforts of a collective group with their community’s betterment in mind.
Etowah C.A.R.E.S. emphasizes important pillars throughout the community, emerging as a Community Alliance for Revitalization, Economic Development and Schools (C.A.R.E.S.).The nonprofit organization strives “to promote and advance policies and practices consistent with economic development, revitalization, educational expansion and excellence, while providing informational services regarding community issues in pending or proposed action by governmental entities and public agencies” countywide.
Etowah C.A.R.E.S. partners with Etowah Sheriff’s Charities to provide a local food distribution program, developing fundraising efforts to generate donations for its fellow nonprofit.
While brainstorming options for additional funding, Etowah C.A.R.E.S. member John Moore – who recently participated in a triathlon – suggested the organization host a triathlon as a fun and interactive opportunity for the community to participate, while contributing to the food distribution program and assisting local families.
Etowah C.A.R.E.S. Revitalization Committee Chair Christi Robinson coordinated the triathlon, gleaming experience from previous years of directing athletic events. Almost 50 people participated, entering the triathlon as individuals or relay teams that ran 3.1 miles, paddled two miles and biked 20 miles. The triathlon concluded with an afterparty featuring awards, live music and food.
In addition to the supporters who attended the triathlon, Robinson shared that community sponsors proved a significant factor in the event’s success. Through strong partnerships among 36 businesses across Etowah County, Etowah C.A.R.E.S. was able to raise $15,000 in pure cash, with $10,000 of sponsorship contributions either given directly to the event or provided for the triathlon in generous services. Mindful of its expenditures to cover the cost of the event, the triathlon still garnered over $7,000 for the food distribution program.
While the response to the triathlon proved overwhelmingly positive, the event signified an opportunity for the community to come together to revitalize its spirit and serve others in the process. Out-of-town attendants expressed interest in returning in upcoming years, bringing friends to the area. Etowah C.A.R.E.S. held a debriefing this past Wednesday to assess the triathlon, determining the pros and cons of its first year and how the event can improve for the future.
“We just want the entire community and everyone who hears the name Etowah C.A.R.E.S. to know that we are a group of people who have our community at heart, with our community’s interests as our top priority,” said Robinson. “We weren’t able to do a lot of things that really communicated our mission last year because of the pandemic, the triathlon is another thing where we do what we can where we can, to make a difference. Our vision is for the Naked Pig Triathlon to be bigger and better next year, with the impact even greater. We hope to have more participation in this next year and hopefully more community partners. We want to raise as much money as we can for this program, but we also want the community to know what Etowah C.A.R.E.S. is about and why we’re doing the things we do.”