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Middleport fundraiser takes a scenic course along Erie Canal

MIDDLEPORT – Runners and walkers looking to take a scenic route along the Erie Canal while contributing to a good cause are welcome to the 27th annual Mr. Ed’s Athletic Club Charity Super Bowl Warm-Up 5K Walk and Run next Sunday.

The event raises scholarship money for Royalton-Hartland students, as well as for a different need in the community each year. For example, more than 600 participants helped support five $1,000 scholarships last year, as well as contribute $500 to purchase toys for patients at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

The event features a 5K walk starting at 10 a.m., a one-mile fun run at 11 a.m., and a 5K race at 11:30 a.m. Registration runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. that day at the Middleport Fire Hall, 28 Main St., and the fee is $30. Preregistration forms are available at www.scorethis.com. The race course begins and ends at the Erie Canal lift bridge in Middleport.

“We had close to 600 last year, which was kind of nice, but we’d like to get even more this year and give seven $1,000 scholarships,” said Don Heschke, one of the event’s organizers. His group of volunteers works closely with the Middleport Volunteer Fire Company to stage the event each year.

The race originated with a bar called “Mr. Ed’s” in Middleport nearly three decades ago. While the bar’s name has been changed to Pony’s Irish Pub, the business is still one of the race’s big sponsors, Heschke said.

Eligible students must be enrolled in courses involving the first response or criminal justice fields, Heschke said. They can be current Roy-Hart students preparing for college or Roy-Hart graduates already enrolled in college.

Application forms are due in the Roy-Hart guidance office by May 15 and the scholarship winners are chosen shortly thereafter, he said.

The race committee also considers needs in the community and awarded $500 to Hope Kassmann’s Christmas wish last year. Kassmann has undergone numerous surgeries at Children’s Hospital and has been donating toys there for the past six years. Heschke said past recipients have also included a family that had lost its home in a fire, as well as a family that had lost a loved one who had served as a local firefighter.

Heschke said local sponsors have been very generous through the years and that he and his committee are always interested in hearing from new ones. He may be reached at 735-3115.

“Bill Donovan and I go out and get the sponsors and we hand-deliver our letters, talking about what we did last year and what we hope to do this year,” Heschke said.

He said they have concentrated on sponsors from Middleport, Gasport, Lockport and Medina, for the most part, but have been able to add others from as far as California, through business contacts.

“Our sponsors have been great, increasing their donations every year, and they really help run this race,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun.”

Awards and ribbons are given to top finishers in men’s and women’s five-year age groups and runner categories include masters, grand masters, and firemen.

A post-race party also is featured at the fire hall.