DENVER – The first Kandace Helms 5K will take place on Saturday, Sept. 9, with the starting line and registration taking place at Betty G Ross Park.
In 2016 Helms died in a head-on collision traveling east on N.C. 150 while taking her oldest child, Peyton, to school.
“When her life was taken, it rocked our community,” said Chanda Courtney, one Helms’ friends and a fellow Boger City Optimist Club board member. “It’s never going to go away...it was a tremendous loss.”
Helms was an avid supporter of the Optimist Club and served on the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) board at Pumpkin Center Primary, where Peyton is now a third-grader. Through her various roles, Helms made a concerted effort to bring goodness to the community.
“When she lost her life, I made it my objective to remember her name,” Courtney said. “I didn’t want what she and I had set out to do to change, to go away.”
So in honor of Helms, Courtney organized the Kandace Helms 5K to benefit several different local programs.
“I wanted to put on a 5K in Kandace’s memory specifically to benefit the things she loved to do with her children,” Courtney said.
Courtney said Helms often bought books from the book fair for children who might not be able to afford them.
“When she passed away, the PTO decided to grant the (Gift of Reading) program,” Courtney said. “A lot of students benefitted from receiving a book in her name.”
East Lincoln High School – Helms’ alma mater – and the Optimist Club were two other places where Helms wanted to make a difference. They will both receive donations from the 5K.
Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to one male and one female East Lincoln student in Helms’ name, and the remaining proceeds from the charity 5K will benefit the Optimist Club where Helms’ son continues to play baseball.
So far, volunteers and sponsors have helped raise $5,000 and, Courtney said, Helms’ father has been heavily involved in the fundraising efforts, as well as other ways to keep Helms’ jubilant spirit alive in the community.
“Her daddy went out and put that there,” Courtney said of the cross placed over the site where the deadly collision occurred. “There not a day one of us drives past that and doesn’t feel that gut-wrenching grief.”
Helm’s family members and more than 100 runners or walkers have registered for the race so far, and registration will be open the day of.
A kids fun run will start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and the 5K will follow, starting at 9 a.m. at the park, 800 Madison St., Lincolnton.
“The course is easy,” Courtney said, noting that there are no steep hills and there will be restrooms within the first mile. “I think every year it’s going to grow.”
For details or to resgister, go to: www.visitrunsignup.com/Race/NC/Lincolnton/KandaceHelms5k