With Halloween coming up, and a certain vibe of scary floating about, zombies in particular remain more prevalent than ever. We all love to watch the movies and TV shows: People running from hordes of the undead, barely getting away from their reach. Some fall behind, only a few make it out alive.
Bringing the zombie culture to life tenfold will be Paws4People, who are holding their second annual Zombie Run this weekend at UNCW. Mixing a coordinated run with zombie actors, who want nothing but to stop runners from finishing the race, Paws4People are utilizing the popularity of local races and runs with a pop-culture phenomenon solely to fund-raise for a wonderful cause.
Paws4People offers service dogs for those in need and their goal is to enhance the lives of active-duty service members, veterans, inmates (federal and state), children/students, and seniors by utilizing the “special powers” of canine companionship and service displayed by highly trained assistance dogs. “We have had an active chapter in Wilmington for over five years,” says Kyria Henry, founder and deputy executive director of Paws4People.
Having moved their headquarters to Wilmington two years ago, the Paws4People foundation succeeds because of its 230 unpaid volunteers and over 200 trained, certified and insured assistance dogs. The dogs are placed through programs that provide educational, therapeutic training, advocacy and visitation programs to a diverse group of people. “All funds raised from the Zombie Run will go directly to the training and placement of assistance dogs with veterans, children, and other community members with life-changing challenges,” Henry notes. “We receive no government grants or support, so these fund-raisers are crucial to our operations and impact on the community.”
Though not a certified 5K race, the Zombie Run welcomes walkers and runners to dash through the 1.5-mile trail on the UNCW campus. The course will be littered with volunteer zombies, dressed and made up to look the gruesome part. “The zombies come dressed or made up however they like,” says Henry. “We had some really scary ones last year!”
For folks who aren’t into the racing spirit, Paws4People is accepting zombie volunteers. Runners will wear streamer-like flags affixed to their backs that zombies will try to grab throughout the course. If they succeed, it’s a symbol that the runner has been bitten and is out of the race.
“Our volunteers will walk the zombies around the course and place them in strategic hiding places,” says Henry. “The buildings and bushes of UNCW provide a lot of ambush spots! Last year we had over 200 people running in the race.”
The zombies will be instructed to pull the runners’ flags off without making physical contact—thus, no pushing, shoving or any force will be tolerated. Security guards and event volunteers police the area and the staff to ensure safety. “Illegal play” from zombies or runners will result in their removal from the course.
“We decided to do the Zombie Run because we do an annual 5k and 10k on UNCW campus each spring,” Henry explains. “Our volunteers suggested this for a fall fund-raiser.”
The course itself is custom-created by 5-Star Race Management. It is all paved, but winds through trees, alleys and back parts of campus. “This is a fun twist on a road race,” Henry says. “In doing the zombie run, you have to dodge, sprint and strategize!”
UNCW hosts the race venue, and many students from various clubs and student organizations will be present. Slice of Life is the race’s title sponsor, and has provided a donation to offset many of the race’s costs. Prizes for winners include gift cards donated from many businesses around Wilmington, as well as prize packages.
The race takes place on October 13th at 4 p.m. in front of the Fisher Student Center on UNCW’s campus. Runners must sign up online before October 10th or add $5 for race-day registration. Please, note, there are no pets, weapons, toy weapons, alcohol or costume props allowed on premises. Paws4People reserves the right to cancel the event due to inclement weather.
Fund-raiser for Paws4People
October 14th, 4 p.m. • Check-in, 2 p.m.
Fisher Student Center,
Jr. runner (-17): $15
Adult runner (18+): $20
Zombies (14+): $20
UNCW students: $18