A trip to Disney World is a memorable milestone, but Sheila Wakeman of Cornelius had no idea when she ran her first marathon there 15 years ago how the experience would later resonate in her life and those of hundreds of others, many of them children. “The event raised $5,000 for leukemia and lymphoma research,” she says. “It was an amazing experience and I became passionate about it.” So passionate, that four years ago, she and her husband, Jeff, a real estate developer, founded the Jetton Park Triathlon, which is on target this year to top $100,000 in donations to local charities. “When we moved to the lake from south Charlotte about 15 years ago, we were struck by the beauty of the area and the tremendous community spirit,” she says. “Jeff and I are both athletes and know how valuable health and fitness is for the community, so we wanted to find a way to benefit local charities through an event that’s fun, healthy and brings people together.” This year’s event, scheduled for May 12, includes a 750-meter swim, 20K bike ride, 5K run and a silent auction, to benefit the Ronald McDonald House and the Hope House Foundation of Huntersville. Some 400 people are expected to participate. New this year is a Corporate Team Challenge in which sponsored employees can earn points toward a Community Award for their company. “This is a great event for first-timers because it’s well organized and we put a great deal of emphasis on safety,” says Wakeman. “But we have participants from experienced runners to novices.” Wakeman credits the event’s success to exceptionally generous and loyal support from 30 to 40 corporate sponsors and the more than 100 volunteers, including her three daughters, Julia, 12, Emily, 15, and Courtney, 17. “Each recipient charity is required to provide a minimum of 25 volunteers, which helps, but the event pretty much consumes us from September to May,” Wakeman says. “People have no idea how much goes into an event like this, especially today, when time and money are such valuable commodities. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, who are so incredibly generous with their time, their passion and their energy.”
Want to go?What: Jetton Park TriathlonWhen:Saturday, May 14Where:Jetton Park, CorneliusFor details go to http://jettontri.com
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