Steelers’ Bettis to attend East Palestine 5K
EAST PALESTINE — During an East Palestine Village Council meeting earlier this month, Matt Werner, chief operating officer at COMPCO and an organizer of the Road2Recovery Hometown Walk & 5K Run in East Palestine, said event organizers were hoping for an NFL Hall of Famer to host the event.
That special guest has since been announced as legendary Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. Bettis will lend his star power to the June 10 event that is expected to showcase the village’s resiliency, give local small businesses a boost and raise money for youth initiatives in East Palestine in the wake of February’s Norfolk Southern train derailment.
“Our goals are to No. 1, give the storefronts some much needed advertising for free. To let them market themselves and share their businesses with multiple people from multiple communities and show what they are able to do,” Werner said. “The second thing is to raise a ton of money for the kids. We have representatives that are heavily involved with youth sports organizations and youth initiatives in general. All the money is going to flow directly through the United Way and back to the village youth. And the third thing, we want the optic of that many people in town to show that the town is back on its feet.”
During the meeting, Werner said the event was close to meeting its goal of $100,000 with more than $82,000 already raised at that time. Since, that goal has been surpassed as $126,135 has been raised to date. All proceeds will “be used to advance and improve programs that offer academic, artistic, athletic, and entrepreneurial opportunities to our young and emerging students in the village” and will “support exceptional youth programs that promote a culture of determination required to build and sustain a vibrant and thriving community for many years to come.”
More than 300 participants
already have registered for the event and 68 sponsors have stepped up. Those sponsors include COMPCO, The United Way of Columbiana County, Norfolk Southern, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, HEPACO Environmental Services and several area businesses.
The race will start at 9 a.m. on Thomas Street near the middle school parking lot and proceed south to West North Avenue. Runners will continue through the westside of town, make a loop at the park and make their way to the finish line at the high school track. The Hometown Walk will also start at 9 a.m. at the middle school. The walking route follows along the North Market Street store fronts.
The cost to participate is $10 per child and $20 per adult. To register or learn more about the event, visit road2recoveryep.com.
“This is a good opportunity for East Palestine to show all surrounding communities who we are and what we are about and show off some of the businesses we have in town,” Werner added. “And all of our kids are going to benefit from this.”