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First Baptist of Gainesville focuses on fitness, family, fun
5K, 1-mile runs, other activities planned for Sept. 23 at Midtown Greenway
Be Grateful
The Be Grateful 5K and Family Carnival will take place at the Midtown Greenway in Gainesville. The event is hosted by the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. - photo by For The Times

Celebrating a time of fitness and fun, the Family Life Center at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville will host 5K and one-mile runs and a family carnival Sept. 23.

The proceeds from the Be Grateful event will go toward the center’s Kids at Play initiative to encourage families to be active together.
Participants can run or walk the courses at the Midtown Greenway at 862 Grove St. The 1-mile run begins at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 5K run at 9 a.m.

Strollers and well-behaved, vaccinated dogs on a leash are welcome to participate in the 1-mile run.

Be Grateful 5K and Family Carnival
When: 8:15 a.m. Sept. 23
Where: Midtown Greenway, 862 Grove St., Gainesville
How much: To participate in the 5K run, adults $30, children $25; 1-mile run, 14 and older $20, 13 and younger $10

More info:

"The big thing is that the goal of the Life Center is to get everybody involved, especially the kids at a young age,” said Gin Stump, Family Life Center director. “Most of the time, all of these races involve the adults running the 5K, but in the past couple of years we added the 1 mile component, where the kids are around to see their parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles participating in the race and encourage them to get started on having a healthy lifestyle at a young age.”

Stump said the focus of the Family Life Center and the Kids at Play initiative is to get “families in the community to come exercise and play together.”

“We want families to just spend more time together while starting on a healthy lifestyle or getting back into one,” Stump said.
The race, according to Stump, is a celebration of long-time staff member of the Family Life Center, Kelli Pirkle.  

“She led our fitness classes and started a thing called ‘Couch Potatoes,’ a 5K. People have been running for three days a week for the past nine weeks here,” Stump said. “She not only led all of our fitness classes and worked the desk, but she also did our Mom’s Morning Out program then. She was really fond of kids, so we thought adding a family carnival component would be fitting for her.”

Stump said they added the carnival because they “want to bring in more kids this year and have a fun, family outing for everybody.”
The family carnival will be from 9:20 a.m. to noon.

There will be free carnival games and a bounce house. To bring the carnival theme to life, popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones will be available for 50 cents.

All proceeds from the event will go toward the Kids at Play initiative.

“That has already helped us kick off our first soccer season that started Aug. 21, and we had the first games last weekend. We had over 80 kids sign up for the first season,” Stump said. “It is a low-cost program to make sports available to all socioeconomic backgrounds, and that is what we are really trying to do — make it to where everybody can get up here, get out from in front of the television and participate in sports. We want to make it more of a community center.”

Funds have gone toward setting up the children’s indoor soccer area as well as making it possible for the center to continue offering the league at $35, Stump said.

“We will have a basketball season that will start in January,” Stump said. “It is also helping transform the spaces; we are having a big room transferred into a kid’s space to be a lot safer. Right now they have a small area that they can play in and we want to improve that. Now they will be able to have playground areas.”

The Family Life Center is a full service facility and community center.

“We are not just open to church members; more than half of our members are from the community,” Stump said.

Day-of registration for the race begins at 7:30 a.m., or participants can register beforehand online at

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