Eaton continues top sponsorship of annual Oaklawn Hospitality Classic

MARSHALL – Eaton is continuing its role as the top corporate sponsor of the Oaklawn Hospitality Classic, in support of healthy lifestyles among employees and area residents of all ages.

The annual event will take place Saturday, May 20, and for the third year a free health fair at the Fountain Circle will be open to the public throughout the morning.

The Hospitality Classic typically draws more than 1,000 runners as well as their families and many spectators for running and walking events throughout town and its rural surroundings.

Eaton has been a key sponsor of the race over the years, and this year’s $8,000 gift from Eaton’s charitable contributions fund continues the company’s involvement.

“As we’ve done in past years, we’re helping Oaklawn and this great event because it supports Eaton’s ‘Five Pillars of Health,’ which is our employee wellness initiative,” said John Lubis, program manager at Eaton. “Our goal is to encourage employees to eat well, get fit, reduce stress and continue to improve their overall health.”

Scores of Eaton staff and family members from throughout the region have participated as part of a team effort in support of the Hospitality Classic. Lubis said the same will hold true this year.

“As always, the goal is to get more involvement and more volunteers,” Lubis said. “And the health fair continues to build on everything that’s been done over the decades to make this a powerful community event.”

“We strive for high participation from our employees and their families in the walking and running events and the health fair,” said Nathan Stewart,  product strategy manager at Eaton and leader of the Wellness Council at Eaton’s Marshall Proving Grounds.

“There’s a multitude of fun activities to participate in for all ages,” Stewart said. “This is all about partnering with the community, and we are thankful that Marshall has this type of event!”

Stewart and Eaton design engineer Andrew Meyers are members of the company’s Wellness Council, a group of 13 staff members that selected the Hospitality Classic for support because its fits well with Eaton’s own efforts to promote healthy living among employees.

Cleveland-based Eaton maintains its 600-acre proving grounds on B Drive South near Marshall. Eaton employees plan to run in the race as well as volunteer for various activities, including setting up the course and supervision of water stations and the finish line.

“We want to get as much participation from Eaton’s employees as possible at this event,” Meyers said. “Every year, we want to have more, so we’re working to promote it on our Marshall campus and other Eaton campuses in Michigan.”

Meyers and Stewart said they hope this year’s participation from Eaton sites in Southfield, Galesburg, Marshall and Jackson will surpass last year’s effort, during which 130 Eaton employees helped or ran in the race.

The Hospitality Classic will feature a 10K race beginning at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K race at 9 a.m. A noncompetitive May Walk will begin at 9 a.m. following the runners, with the Mile Fun Run beginning at 10 a.m. Past participants have ranged in age from 2 years old up to age 85.

The health fair will extend the morning’s race activities into the afternoon, and will bring together dozens of displays and information booths featuring services by Oaklawn and other area health providers.

“This is a tremendous partnership between Oaklawn and Eaton,” said Richard Lindsey, Oaklawn’s executive director of development and its community and legislative affairs. “Oaklawn reaches out in many different places and many different ways, but the Hospitality Classic has become a joint signature event that we share with Eaton, in bringing the kids and all the community out to run the race.

“Eaton and its employees sponsor the Classic not only with a check but with themselves,” Lindsey said. “They’re here. They volunteer. They work. And they run, too. Eaton’s sponsorship of the Hospitality Classic is a vital contribution to the health of our community.”

Eaton’s donation will be used to purchase awards, food and operating expenses, and to support Oaklawn’s 100 Lap Club, which encourages exercise in regional elementary schools.

Since Eaton’s involvement, the 100 Lap Club has expanded into neighboring communities, growing from about 650 students to more than 820. That club is funded by the annual race.

Both programs’ mutual goal is to encourage healthy habits – including diet and exercise – at an early age, and to shape a more attentive and healthy student population in Calhoun County. It’s all done through the promotion of fun, fitness and the enjoyment of running and walking.

“We are asking students to encourage their parents to participate as they work to earn their 100 Lap Club membership,” Lubis said.

“Forming a relationship with long-term health from the beginning is so important – and so is extending the message to the parents,” Lubis said. “We’ve got a big opportunity – especially in Calhoun County – to increase that awareness and participation.”

“Oaklawn and the community work together to make this great event happen, and the need for volunteers is persistent,” Lindsey said. “A great many Oaklawn employees get behind this project, and we invite everyone with a little extra time to lend them a hand.”

Individuals who wish to volunteer for this year’s race may contact Lindsay by email at Additional information about the race is available from Oaklawn’s development office at (269) 789-3942.

For Lubis, the company’s involvement is professional and personal. A runner himself, Lubis has participated in at least a half-dozen past Hospitality Classics, typically with his wife Jodi, daughter Monica and son Matthew.

Lubis’ wife Jodi owns Pastrami Joe’s in Marshall, which has sponsored the Reuben Race 5K Run/Walk for Charity as a fundraiser for the Fountain Clinic.

One can prepare for the Hospitality Classic through the Oaklawn Fitness Center’s free “Five Weeks to a 5k” program at the Oaklawn Fitness Center, which is under way but may be joined at any time. Information about that program may be obtained by calling the center at (269) 781-7585.

The race began in 1983 as the Bar Scheez Classic. Oaklawn began working with the event in its first year, and took over sponsorship of the race in 1988. The event has been endorsed for several years by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.