Read and Run Event Focuses on Education and Health

United Way of Hall County (UWHC) will host its Inaugural Read and Run Half-Marathon/5K, Read-A-Thon and Expo on Saturday, April 14, at The Venue at Friendship Springs from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.  “This event is a way for us to reach everyone, no matter their age or athletic ability – especially those who are active runners or avid readers,” said Joy Griffin, president of United Way of Hall County.

Longstreet Clinic is the presenting sponsor for the event and is leading the way in early childhood literacy initiatives in Hall County. UWHC and Longstreet launched Reach Out and Read in 2016, a program that emphasizes the importance of early learning for children in our community, especially prenatal to age 5, and encourages reading from birth. “More than 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed during the first few years of life,” said Mitch Sheikh, a pediatrician at Longstreet Clinic in Braselton. “Giving a book to each child and encouraging them to read is a crucial part of a child’s development and we’re grateful to be part of this important initiative.”

Pediatricians at Longstreet Clinic reached approximately 4,000 families since May of last year with books, donated through funding from UWHC, and a “prescription” to read aloud with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day. “We recognize, this could be the first book a child has received as their own.  Children’s faces light up when their doctor gives them a book to take home, and we know that it will be a means to developing early literacy skills and foster healthy brain and social/emotional development,” said Mimi Collins, CEO at Longstreet Clinic. “Sponsoring the Read and Run Event was a natural fit to continue this emphasis on literacy and healthy lifestyles.”

The Read and Run Event is a unique event with many ways for the community to participate. You can run in the Half Marathon or 5K, participate in the Read-A-Thon or stroll through the vendor exhibits at the Expo.

“The Read-A-Thon is three consecutive hours of fun reading activities for all ages,” said Ruth Demby, United Way Read, Learn, Succeed Coordinator. “Children from toddlers to 10 years old can participate in reading activity stations and listen to stories told by their favorite book characters. Teens and adults can come and get lost in their favorite book in our quiet reading marathon room.” The Read-A-Thon begins at 7:30 a.m. and all participants will receive a finisher medal and T-shirt as well as other prizes.

The Half Marathon/5K begins at 7:30 a.m. and the USATF-certified course will be open for four hours. “There aren’t many races of this distance in the North Georgia area, so this is a great opportunity for long distance runners who are looking for a local race and want an opportunity to give back to something that makes a difference in the lives of children in our community,” said Matt Wojteczko, United Way Campaign and Communications Manager.

To learn more about Read and Run, visit or call Matt Wojteczko with United Way of Hall County at 678-989-5330.

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