For this special episode of Community Conversations, we spoke with Steve Liga from Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) and Pastor Chris Rhodenhizer from Image Church about their upcoming IWALK for ACTS 5K.
Q: We have the seventh annual IWALK coming up. It has a 5K run, family festival, and it’s going to be on October 7 at the Stonebridge Town Center. Now, this is the second year that you’ve had it there. I know last year you had a little run in with the rain, so this year we hope it’s going to be a little bit nicer weather. But Chris, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this event got started?
CR: Absolutely. So we launched our church in Dumfries, Virginia, which is right where ACTS is located and headquartered there in Prince William County. And we wanted to give back to the community, we knew that we wanted to, in a sense, to bless those that were right around us. And so we began doing really just a walk there, we ended up hosting it at the park there in Dumfries and we partnered with ACTS. Of course all of the funds go to ACTS, to help families in need. And so we want to be a part of that – they do that so well – and we just thought we’d come alongside and do something for them. Then we ended up going to the Potomac Nationals Park, which was a great thing for us, then we’re now at Stonebridge, which is really where we want it to be.
And so we’re excited about that. We get to be right, in a sense, in the middle of where all the action is in town, high visibility, and we love partnering with ACTS, and seeing what happens, and how a lot of people can be helped, and a lot of people get to be involved in helping.
SL: That’s what we like. And really, we like to be part of the community, and the community is what makes us work.
CR: Absolutely. Right.
SL: Volunteers, supportive churches. And you guys are great.
CR: We love it and we love what ACTS does.
Q: So Steve, tell us about ACTS and basically, how will the funds help impact Prince William County?
SL: Well, ACTS serves the entire county. And our mission is to help people who are in crisis. And that can be a crisis, whether it’s a physical need – people are hungry, people don’t have a place to stay, people can’t pay their bills, prescriptions – you name it. Or it can be a psychological or emotional thing – whether it’s been someone who’s been sexually assaulted, or a domestic violence situation, or even suicide. We do an excellent job with suicide prevention. But half of our budget comes from donations and contributions. So as a CEO, it’s always a little bit nerve-wracking when I set the budget – I’m like ‘How generous is the community going to be this year?’ And where’s it gonna come from. And to have something that we can count on like the IWALK that Image brings on for us is tremendous. Every year I challenge you guys to do a bit more – a lot more.
CR: We want to put the standard high, you know, and see what we can do.
SL: But that’s something we can count on. And there’s so many things that we want to do that can’t be done with a grant. Grants say we want you to do this specific thing in this particular place for these certain people. And people’s needs aren’t that – they’re not always like that.
Q: Not all of the needs of the community necessarily fall into a box. Where you can say ‘This is what this is for’. So, you actually need funds to help those emergencies, or help some things that are basically out of that box, and make sure they’re taken care of.
Q: So what can people expect at this year’s event?
SL: Sun, maybe.
CR: What was amazing about last year, is that I mean – of course the rain in a sense held off, it could have been way worse. But it was a nasty day. And we still had, I mean, it ended up with the event and the event afterwards for families, we had thousands of people show up. On a nasty day, really.
SL: We had 100 people show up that morning who hadn’t pre-registered. So that means they got up in the morning, when the rest of us were thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to get up and go set up in the rain’. 100 people got up and said, ‘Let’s go do the IWALK’.
CR: They made a decision on a bad day to come out.
Q: So what kind of things for the family are there, after? So it’s a run and a walk, so you can do either.
SL: It’s a real run too. So, we’re partnering with Virginia Runner, so it’s a full-timed, real race. So, folks who are looking to keep their times up, get in their monthly race or whatever they wanna do, this will count.
Q: So, what about afterwards for after the run, for the family event?
CR: We’ve got a great family event. By the way, we had some people in our church that years ago, came up with this idea. I didn’t come up with this. They came up with this idea of partnering with ACTS to do something great for the community. And now it’s turned into this great idea where after the race, and after the walk, everyone all comes together, we have a big festival, we all have a fun center, in a sense, for kids. We have moon bounces, and games. Of course they’ll be able to get face painting. We’ll have all kinds of different people there that have sponsored it, displaying stuff.
CR: Food, yeah, we’ll have food there. So, it’s going to be a great time. It’s a family event – it’s right there in the town center. So, I mean if you’ve got to do some shopping too, you can kill two birds with one stone, in a sense, right? And come hang out with us, I mean. Of course, we’re out there with Wegmans. Wegmans is helping us big time.
SL: And we’ve got a stage set up. So we’ve got local community groups – we’ve got the karate class, we had a great country western band last year.
Q: So basically, how can people take action to get involved with the run here?
CR: Well you can go to iwalkforacts.com and register there. It’s $20 for individuals and $50 per family. So, they can register now today, that would help us greatly. So just go to that website, click on that, and get involved. Show up.
SL: And we’re doing something – a different push this year – we’re really trying to get teams to fundraise. As a team, to break things out. So like, my wife set up our team yesterday and she told me I was on her team – I had a feeling I would be. But then she said, ‘Okay our goal is to raise $1,000 as a team’. And I was like, ‘I’m already raising stuff’ and she said ‘We’re gonna do it’. So the idea is, we’re hoping groups of people will get together and somebody says, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the IWALK with us’ and somebody says ‘Oh, I’m not sure I can go’ and he says ‘But you can sponsor me then for my team’.
CR: And here’s another perk to that. If you get a team together it’s not $20, it’s $15 bucks per individual. So if you get a team together, in a sense, you can register to run for a little bit less. But still, it helps.
SL: We’d hoping to get some competition going. We’d love to see a couple of different banks have teams and go after each other. We’re working with trying to get some gyms to do a little friendly competition, and realtors. We think it could really be fun that way.
Check back for the next episode of Community Conversations.
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