Ten years ago, Angela Nicholas and Susan Mungo started the Red Cross Rescue Racer Team.
At the time, Nicholas was executive director of the local Red Cross Chapter.
They wanted to raise money to support the Red Cross, and they also wanted to help themselves and others be active and healthy. They adopted the motto “Train with a Purpose” and became the official charity training team for the Myrtle Beach Marathon.
The team started with 16 members. “It was such a new concept, and we were very excited to have 16 members. Now, we have 74,” said Nicholas, program manager..
There was a year that the team had 100 members. That was in 2010 when there was snow on the ground and the Myrtle Beach marathon was cancelled. They ran or walked the next day after the streets were cleared, but mostly stayed on the sidewalks, Nicholas said.
Every member of the team must commit to raise $500 for the Red Cross, except for students who commit to raise $250. Members range from 14 to 70, and most of them raise more money than they plan. The past year has been a tough one for The Red Cross locally and nationally, with all the flooding, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other events that left disaster in their paths — in addition to the many house fires that have taken everything from families.
Red Cross Rescue Racer team members are acutely aware of the importance of the money they raise. By the time the Myrtle Beach Marathon is over, the team will have raised over $650,000 for Red Cross disaster services over the last decade.
Nicholas said the team had one of its proudest moments at last year’s Myrtle Beach Marathon when team member Kristin Smith qualified for the Boston Marathon, becoming the first member of the team to do that. “It is an incredible accomplishment for her to build her speed up enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It says a lot about her and it says a lot about our coaches,” said Nicholas, adding that Smith is the mother of five children and home schools some of them.
The team has six Roadrunner’s Club of America certified run and run/walk coaches. Dawn Buckley, a Red Cross board member, is the walking coach.
Jackie Sgambati was head coach for about seven years before she moved to become cross- country coach at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.
This is Christine Rockey’s second year as head coach. The other five are Mungo, a two- time breast cancer survivor, Roscoe Griffin, Dustin Warren, Toni Birchler and Gary Elmore.
` About six years ago, Glenn and Sherry Johnston of Minnesota joined the team. “They just do it so they can help the cause,” Nicholas said. The couple donates a timeshare for the weekend of the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which has events beginning on March 2 and the marathon on March 4. The condo is at the Carolina Grande on Ocean Boulevard, close to the start of the marathon. “It’s a great vacation deal and a great donation to the Red Cross,” Nicholas said.
The Red Cross Rescue Racer team meets each Saturday for group training.
For information or to donate, call Nicholas at (843) 655-9788, email her at Aknicholas28@gmail.com, visit www.crowdrise.com/RescueRacers, www.facebook.com/RedCrossRescueRacers.
Peggy Mishoe, email@example.com, 365-3885.
Donations may be mailed to American Red Cross of Eastern South Carolina, 3531 Pampas Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577