Registration for the inaugural Clackamas Volunteers in Medicine Virtual Run, Walk and Roll for Health Care is now open, with the race scheduled to begin Sept. 19.
Originally designed as an in-person event, CVIM is instead utilizing a virtual format for the 5K race due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases countywide.
The event, which lasts eight days from Sept. 19-26, is open to participants of all abilities, ages and, now with the virtual platform, locations. Participants from all across the country can run, walk or roll 5 kilometers, equivalent to roughly 3.1 miles, or their maximum mileage.
Participants are encouraged to sign up online, after which they will be prompted to download a digital mobile and desktop app called RaceJoy where participants can track their time and distance as well as cheer on other runners.
The event costs $35 per person, and participants will be mailed a nylon backpack upon registration. Proceeds will benefit CVIM, a free clinic in Oregon City dedicated to serving the health needs of underserved communities in Clackamas County through a medical and community volunteer network.
Executive Director Martha Spiers said participants could also create a Facebook page "to get family and friends to support their participation," adding that she participates in the race and has had success fundraising through Facebook.
"I've gotten $1,500 already on my Facebook sponsorship, just for my own participation," Spiers said.
"The other thing is that anyone in the country can participate," she added. "I sent a message out to all my nieces and nephews, and they're all going to be participating, so you don't have to be local."
Claire Schmuki, an AmeriCorps VISTA member involved in developing the event, said the virtual format would open up participation to people from anywhere in the country and give them a wide window of time to complete the 5K.
"So people can plan it around their schedule, and they don't have to just be there on that single day," said Schmuki, who also plans to participate in the race.
They added that the virtual format has always been the organization's backup plan in case of another COVID-19 surge.
"Not a lot of people have gotten the chance to actually get their chip times out for their 5Ks, 10Ks, over the course of the past year because of COVID, but cases have been rising again," Schmuki said. "We decided to move on to virtual, that was always a backup because a previous company I used to work for was also doing virtual runs as well, so it's something that I had at least a passing familiarity with."
Spiers said she hopes the race will become an annual event, hopefully returning in-person next year. It will be CVIM's primary fundraising event for 2021, so she said as many participants as possible are highly encouraged to sign up for the race, ultimately helping the nonprofit provide health care services to the county's underserved communities.
"All our services are volunteer driven, so we have a lot of retired physicians, nurses, we also have people in the process of going to medical school who are volunteering as scribes and interpreters," Spiers said.
"We don't charge our patients, and we don't bill insurance," she added. "We serve people in Clackamas County who are low-income and uninsured, and most of our patients are over 18 because all kids should have access to some insurance. So it's mostly an adult population."
"Most typically they are people who are holding down one or two low-wage jobs and don't have any employer-provided insurance," she continued, adding that diabetes and hypertension are their most prevalent diagnoses, but they also have a vision clinic that provides free eye exams with eyeglasses available at cost in partnership with the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation.
Spiers said CVIM held vaccination clinics in the past in partnership with the county but is no longer providing the service. The nonprofit decided not to provide COVID testing due to their focus on delivering their largely underserved patient population with chronic disease care or primary medical care.
"It's really a great clinic," Spiers said. "Our patients tend to be really grateful for the care that they receive and have often times gone for years without any medical care, because they just can't afford the fees and co-pays and still support their families."
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