Wildlife advocates are gearing up to stroll the Gulf Coast to raise money for a local nonprofit organization.
Second Turtle Tracks
According to Lauren Albrittain, stranding coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute, the group will host its second Making Turtle Tracks 5K on Saturday. The event, which is open to both walking and running participants, will be held in honor of Earth Day.
Participants pay a $40 entry fee, which is used by the institute to help fund its rehabilitation program.
“This money is super important to our program,” Albrittain said. “As a nonprofit, everything we do is either grant funded or fundraised in some way. … In this case, that money can apply directly back to the cost of rehabilitating our patients.
“Their medication costs money. Their blood work and other tests that we have to send out costs money. Supplies to work with them cost money. Every little bit helps.”
Permitted through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service, the institute is a sister company to Gulf World Marine Park, which also is the institute’s biggest supporter.
Albrittain said the organization raised more than $5,000 from last year’s inaugural race. About 75 people participated, and more than 60 already were signed up as of Monday afternoon for this year’s event.
The race will begin at the M.B. Miller Pier at 8:30 a.m., with registration beginning at 7 a.m. Participants will run or walk along the sandy beach 2.5 kilometers to the west, and then turn around and head back to the pier. Signs will be displayed along the route for participants to learn more about different marine species.
“While you’re out enjoying a beautiful day and supporting us, you also get to learn about the environment around you,” Albrittain said.
Better expectation this year
Albrittain said the institute is hosting the event with the help of partners, including Panama City Beach Turtle Watch, Florida Watersports, Hy’s Toggery, Panhandle Aquascapes and Landscaping and Brittany McLaughlin of Century 21 Ryan Realty.
Those interested in signing up for the event can do so by searching “Making Turtle Tracks” on runsignup.com.
“It’s our second one, and we had a really great time last year,” Albrittain said. “We hope to have an even better time this year.”
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Source: News Herald