Community Challenge breaks records

Published 11.11.2019

Student News
Faculty & Staff

Reed (at left in white sweatshirt) shouts final instructions at the start of the trail run, including the invite to the Habalars’ home for post-race nourishment.Saturday’s Community Challenge attracted over 400 participants from seven states and raised close to $20,000 – breaking both participant and financial records for the annual event supporting the Salvation Army of Williamsport.

“The Community Challenge attracts so many good-hearted people, from running champions to first-time hikers who are looking for a supported challenge through beautiful and rugged terrain,” said Michael J. Reed, an event organizer and Pennsylvania College of Technology’s vice president for academic affairs/provost. “Over 17 miles of trails are used for the event, and we change the courses every year so participants experience a new challenge and get exposed to more of the beautiful landscape. Our volunteers put in so much time and effort to ensure everything goes as planned. This year was a lot of fun with many smiles, strong feelings of accomplishment, and only a few bumps and bruises. The cause, coupled with the unique race experience, truly made Saturday a special event.”

A lineup of loot! From the creative hands of Penn College ceramics instructors David A. and Deborah L. Stabley to a trail table awaiting winners: ceramic trophies and ornaments for the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each age group as well as the traveling “Community Cup.” ROTC ready to serve! Penn College ROTC students and their mentors arrived early to move out into the woods where they staffed aid stations. From left: Chet Beaver, coordinator of veteran and military services; ROTC students Adam T. Roe, Jesse D. Laird V, Anthony J. Marturano, Blake T. Blodgett, Jared R. Ward and Brandon J. Knauff; and student veteran Andrew Placencia.Held at the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority on the outskirts of DuBoistown, the event features 5K, 10K and half-marathon trail races. With 385 pre-event registrants and 25 participants registering that morning, the challenge logged nearly 100 more registrants than last year and achieved a 90 percent show rate. Williamsport Area School District captured the Community Cup, awarded to the organization with the most participants. “After a few years of Penn College winning, I’m glad to see the cup traveling!” Reed said.

Among the Penn College contingent volunteering at the endeavor were members of Omega Delta Sigma, the student veterans fraternity; ROTC program students; and members of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) student chapter.

Among those directing parking were John M. Strauch (left), a member of the IEEE student chapter, and Jacob L. Caputo, a student veteran (Marine Corps). Strauch, ’18 mechatronics engineering technology, is enrolled in applied technology studies; Caputo is a construction management student. Family fun for four! Eric C. Easton, forestry instructor, and his family braved the brisk November morning to run the 5K together. (Mom Carolyn won her age group.)The Salvation Army of Williamsport assists about 400 area families each month. Community Challenge funds support the organization’s tutoring, mentoring, food distribution, and financial planning and budgeting courses. Proceeds will also provide a gift for children during the December holiday season. This year, the Community Challenge also made a small donation to Penn College’s Veteran and Military Services, supporting all student veterans and military students. “We are grateful for the privilege to pay it forward to our community members and veterans in need,” Reed added.

Following the trail races, the Community Challenge crowd was invited by Tushanna M. Habalar, Penn College nursing instructor, to stop by her family’s nearby home for grilled cheese sandwiches. Nearly 200 took the Habalars up on their offer and were also treated to hot cocoa and marshmallows – a warm and welcoming finish line on a brisk November morning.