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MARSHALL – Eaton Corp. again has agreed to be the top corporate sponsor of the Oaklawn Hospitality Classic, in support of healthy lifestyles among employees and area residents of all ages.
The news expands on a new development in the history of the annual event, which will take place Saturday, May 16. A free health fair at the Fountain Circle will be open to the public throughout the morning of the traditional races, and extend into the early afternoon for the convenience of visitors.
The Marshall City Council approved Oaklawn’s request to hold the health fair during its regular meeting Monday, following a presentation about the race and fair plans by Police Chief James Schwartz.
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.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity to have that many vendors as part of that day,” Mayor Jack Reed said in response to Schwartz’s presentation.
The Hospitality Classic typically draws about 1,000 runners as well as their families and many spectators for running and walking events throughout town and its rural surroundings.
Eaton Corp. has been a regular sponsor of the race over the years, but this year’s $8,000 contribution continues the company’s significant increase in involvement that began in 2014.
“We’re helping Oaklawn Hospital and this great event because it supports Eaton’s ‘Five Pillars of Health,’ which is our employee wellness initiative,” said John Lubis, program manager for the company. “Our goal is to encourage employees to eat well, get fit, reduce stress and stay trim.”
Last year, dozens of Eaton Corp. staff and family members participated as part of a team effort in support of the Hospitality Classic. Lubis said the same will hold true this year.
“The goal is to get more involvement and more volunteers,” Lubis said. “We’re excited about the addition of the health fair, too. The idea just builds on everything that’s been done over the decades to make this a powerful community event.”
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.
“We’re all grateful to our city’s leaders for their progressive support in bringing this health-oriented event to downtown Marshall,” Lubis said. “By expanding this great event, we’re helping to keep our entire community healthy and fit for the future.”
“When it comes to Oaklawn’s events, we appreciate all of our community and corporate sponsors,” said Mike Beck, who directs Oaklawn’s development and marketing teams. “And we definitely cherish Eaton’s sponsorship of the Hospitality Classic.
“Eaton always brings many volunteers and runners to the Classic,” Beck said. “John Lubis and his team are great partners and friends with Oaklawn and this community. We couldn’t be happier to be continuing this relationship.”
Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. 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.
Eaton’s donation will be used toward purchase of awards, food and operating expenses, and to support Oaklawn’s HealthYou and 100 Lap Club programs in regional 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, 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 also hope students will 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.”
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 Life Improvement Center. 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 Hospital 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.