BROOKSVILLE — Going the distance in a "marathon" that only requires its participants to travel about a mile might not seem very grueling. But the Women of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church say the fundraising event is more about fun and fellowship.
The 1.69 Million Millimeter Marathon for Mary's House will kick off at 9 a.m. April 5 with the church's women, and any other females who would like to participate, taking to the new sidewalk bordering U.S. 41 near the church and walking up the hill to the intersection at State Road 50 and back — a total of just 1.05 miles or 1.69 million millimeters.
"The walk is shorter than the name" is the motto for the event.
"I wanted to do something different," said Sharon Taylor, head of the women's ministry at the church. "They were putting the sidewalks in front of the church, and I had come up with the idea where the women could all meet at the church, walk up to (a restaurant) and walk back. It was just a fun, sort of silly thing to do."
Taylor originally conceived the idea as a fellowship event, such as last year's Spa Day and the day at the Webster Flea Market. But the walk idea soon evolved into a fundraiser.
"The more we talked about it, we decided it would be hilarious to do it as a kind of absurd marathon and use it as a fundraiser," Taylor said.
Participants hope to each raise at least $100 from pledges that will be given to Mary's House, a homeless shelter for women that is part of Jericho Road Ministries in Brooksville.
Businesses or individuals donating $100 or more will have their logo or name put on a "sandwich board" that will be worn by one of the walkers.
"We're going to do it just like you do any other walk-a-thon," Taylor said. "We joke about how we'll have water and power bars along the way like they do in a real marathon, and there will be some prizes. We tell everyone after we're done we're going to come back to church and have cake."
Women planning to walk should obtain a packet with pledge forms and other paperwork from Taylor.
Many of those expected to participate are seniors. Some may even use walkers or canes, Taylor speculated, noting that some senior women will wear jogging suits and sweat bands to promote the event within the church this month.
"It's just going to be fun and light," she said.
This is the third year the group has sponsored a project to raise money for the women's shelter.
Last year, members had a fashion show, modeling clothing that had been purchased from the Jericho Road Ministries thrift store. Two years ago, they hosted a brunch.
There also is a donation box at the church for ongoing contributions of items for shelter residents.
"We collect everything from shampoo to any needs they might have," said Lonna Field, who passed the baton as head of the women's ministry to Taylor last June.
Field and several other women take turns conducting Bible studies at the shelter each Monday. She thinks the walk is a great idea for a fundraiser and plans to participate.
"With fundraisers, you have to evaluate the amount of time, effort and energy it takes to actually pull it off and see how much money you are going to make for your charity," Field said. "This fundraiser isn't going to require as much time and effort to get it put together. I thought it was a fun idea."
The group also completed service projects at Brooksville Healthcare Center and at the Donation Station recently. Each fall, the women have an arts and crafts show to raise money for the church's Deacon's Fund, which helps people in the congregation who have fallen on hard times.
"We just try to have a wide range of things for women to get involved in," Taylor said. "We usually have two women's Bible studies going, and we've formed a book club. We try to really make connections between women and encourage them to get to know one another better."
Taylor hopes to raise between $2,000 and $3,000 for Mary's House with the mini-marathon.
"It's a great cause, so (we know) people will donate," she said. "We hope many women will want to participate and that there will be many spectators. They can join us for cake afterward."