Local Team Gearing Up for Half-Marathon

BERLIN- With the annual Ocean City Half Marathon coming up again in April, at least one local team of runners is hitting the pavement to train for the annual event while raising funds for a worthy cause.

The Ocean City Half-Marathon and associated 5k race returns on April 24 with hundreds of running enthusiasts set to descend on the resort area of a weekend of road racing, fun events and, perhaps most importantly, an opportunity to raise funds for a very important part on the safety net for Worcester County. A four-member team from Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS), including assistant director Carolyn Cordial, Katherine Smith, Jen Kelly and Becky Cornwall, is now training for the annual half marathon in an effort to raise funds for the various programs the organization offers to the residents of the county and is looking for some help for the cause from the community in a variety of ways.

The WYFCS team is seeking other running enthusiasts to join them in their first attempts at a half-marathon in April. Already, staff members from Sunset Grille and Ocean City Cross Fit and educators from local schools have joined the effort. For those who would rather open their checkbooks than hit the streets, the WYFCS crew is also seeking sponsorships and donations for their GOWOYO team.

“Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services had decided to hit the Boardwalk for the half-marathon this year,” said Cordial. “We have four people running in the event and are looking to get other people in the community on board. We would love to have others in the area join us on the run, but we are also seeking sponsorships and donations so we can maximize the amount of money we raise.”

The event began as a full marathon six years ago, but has undergone some changes over the years. Two years ago, the race was shortened to a half-marathon largely because of logistical problems with ongoing work on the Route 50 bridge and the enthusiasm surrounding the format change cause a spike in popularity.

The half-marathon course begins at the Inlet parking lot and heads down the Boardwalk to North Division Street where racers leave the famous promenade and head west across the Harry Kelley Memorial Bridge into West Ocean City. From there, the course snakes through the Park-and-Ride facility to Old Bridge Rd. and eventually Route 611, where it heads south toward the finish line at Assateague Island.

The WYFCS team is participating in the annual half-marathon with the hope of raising a significant amount of funding for the many programs the organization offers. For example, funds raised during the event will go to the many counseling program WYFCS offers. Last year, 357 youths and adults benefited from the counseling services the agency provides on a broad spectrum of issues.

In addition, funds raised by the WYFCS team will go to the Lower Shore CASA program, a network of volunteers who advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the community who often find themselves caught in the complex court and child welfare system. Finally, some of the funds raised by the team will go to the SAGES program, which helps young girls at risk who are experiencing conflicts in their homes or at school. Last year, 32 teenage girls in the area received life-changing services through the SAGES program.

According to Cordial, because of a variety of factors, most notably economic issues, the demand for the services WYFSC provides has spiked up dramatically in the last year. Raising funds through the half-marathon will allow the team to supplement their other revenue sources to help meet that demand.

“This economy has been very tough on many families in the community,” said Cordial. “Last year, our Family Connections program helped 1,500 people. This is a nice way to support the agency and the services it provides. Many of the runners will be raising money for a lot of great causes, but the money we raise will stay right here in the community.”

Those interested in joining the WYFCS team in the race, or would rather sponsor the team or donate money, are urged to contact Cordial and the WYFCS team at (410) 641-4598.