Corey Ferguson, a senior at Lake Norman High School and a resident of The Point, is gearing up for this year's Furry Friend 5K, an annual fundraiser for the Humane Society of Iredell County.
The road race is the brainchild of Corey and his older sister, Kaitlyn, who is now a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill and wants to become a veterinarian.
Corey came up with the idea when he was a freshman in high school. His family adopted their Australian shepherd mix, Lexi, from the humane society. Lexi is now the official mascot for the Furry Friend 5K.
Corey and his family also visited Petco on a day when the humane society was offering pet adoptions. The society advertised for volunteers, and Corey's interest was piqued. He volunteered with the humane society and enjoyed it. He also discovered how much the society needed financial support.
When he realized the humane society at one point didn't have enough money for cages for all the dogs, Corey and Kaitlyn, who was running cross country at the time, came up with the Furry Friend 5K concept: It allows runners, walkers and their pets to race together.
Trophies go to the top three finishers in each of five different age groups. Registration costs $15 per participant plus one pet supply item, such as a collar, leash, rawhide chew, food or the like.
This is Corey's fourth Furry Friend 5K. He gets help organizing the race from two of his neighbors: Peyton Sorenssen, also a senior at Lake Norman High, and Nicole Hensley, a junior at Cannon School in Concord.
Corey credits his mother for her help in advertising and getting the word out about the Furry Friend 5K.
Most volunteers for the race are people Corey knows through his school's Eco-Friendly Generation Club, another effort he and Kaitlyn started.
So far, Corey said, the Furry Friend 5K has raised $4,000 over the past three years for the humane society. The first year, 70 runners showed up for the race. Last year, it attracted 120 runners. Corey's goals are for 150 runners to come for the fourth annual Furry Friend 5K this year and for the event to raise at least $3,000.
Sponsorships are available, Corey added, for monetary donations of $100, $200, $350 or $500. Sponsorship money is used for T-shirts, food and any other expenses related to the race. Sponsors sometimes donate raffle prizes, which are awarded on the day of the race.
Even though Corey will be going to college next fall, he wants the Furry Friend 5K to continue. He plans to pass the leadership reins to a student who will be a senior next year.