This fall King will be come the only city out side of New York state to host a Helen Keller 5k.
On Monday the King City Council unanimously approved a plan to co-sponsor the race which is expected to draw between 300 and 1,000 runners to the city.
North Carolina Deaf-Blind Associates President Bud Cayton told the council he had chosen the city because of the character of the community and the kindness of King Chamber of Commerce Director Cathy Loveday.
He said the Helen Keller National Center has hosted a similar race in New York for the past 20 years which draws over 6,000 racers.
“It can be an economic gain for the community and a smaller community can benefit more from it than a larger community can,” said Cayton. “There will probably be 30-40 deaf-blind runners and there will be at least two Support Service Providers (SSP) with each runner.”
Cayton said holding the race was important becasue it provides an event for deaf-blind people in the region, giving them a chance to get out interact with the community.
According to Cayton there are between 38,000 and 58,000 deaf-blind people in North Carolina. He said some were born deaf and eventually became blind, some were born blind and eventually became deaf and some lost both their sight and hearing through a traumatic brain injury.
“It can happen to anyone,” said Cayton, speaking to the council with the assistance of two SSPs from UNCG. He explained that the SSPs were providing haptic feedback on his back giving him knowledge of what was happening in the room.
“Most SSPs are volunteers,” he said, explaining that the race would help raise money to help support SSPs and also to help support the Helen Keller National Center. “We have to look at getting the deaf-blind out of their homes. The deaf-blind population is very isolated. We can’t go out and get groceries. We can’t go shopping for clothes because we don’t know what we are buying. There are some of us who cannot survive without help.”
He said if the city could waive fees for police, fire and EMS support for the race it would help stretch the funds raised to help more people, noting that the race could draw, including family and onlookers, close to 2,000 people to the city.
“We will be drawing people in from all 100 counties and probably nine states,” said Cayton. “There are runners from Tennessee, New York, and Chicago who have already expressed an interest in coming.”
Council unanimously agreed to co-sponsor the event and waive fees, with Mayor Jack Warren pledging the assistance of the local Lion’s Club as well. The race is planned for Nov. 5.
“It is a lot of work, but it is going to be a lot of fun for the people,” said Cayton.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.