|By Courtney Llewellyn|
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD For the past eight years, the Hampden County Sheriff's Department and Correctional Center has been hosting the Sheriff's Shuffle, a 5K run/walk to raise money for various charities. This year, the ninth annual run and walk will be collecting funds for Griffin's Friends Children's Cancer Fund at Baystate Medical Center.
The event started as a fundraiser for the family of an employee who passed away, according to Assistant Deputy Mark Peloquin. This year is the first time the race will officially be called the "Sheriff's Shuffle Memorial 5K Run/Walk."
The Sheriff's Department employees and retirees being honored this year include Edward Keating, William Baker, John Sweeney, William Scott and Stephen Scott.
The organization the proceeds of the race are going to, Griffin's Friends, supports families dealing with pediatric cancer by sending them to Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine. Camp Sunshine is a retreat for terminally ill children and their families. Last year, Griffin's Friends sent four families to the camp and this year, Peloquin said he hopes the race raises enough money to send another.
"This is the second year our funds are going to Griffin's Friends," he said. "It was so successful for us last year we decided to stay with it."
Money raised in previous years has gone to the Shriners and the American Cancer Society, but Griffin's Friends is "close to home" for the Sheriff's Department, according to Peloquin.
Approximately 300 walkers and runners participated in the race last year, with runners taking the 5K route and walkers taking a 1.5K route. Peloquin said there are regularly between 250 and 300 participants each year, plus a lot of volunteer assistance.
In addition to the race itself there will be a basketball foul shooting contest for children, among other activities. "We're prepared to keep the kids amused," Peloquin said.
For adults, there will be raffles and refreshments after the race. Gift cards from area restaurants and businesses will be offered in the raffle, as will a three-month family membership for the Springfield YMCA and a baseball autographed by Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett.
"We normally do the race the first weekend in November and it's been successful in the past," Peloquin said. "The weather can be kind of funny, though. We did get snow one year."
The race will take place Nov. 4 starting at 10 a.m. It will begin at the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center, 26 Howard St. in Springfield. Pre-registration is available at the Howard Street location, on-site before the race and online at www.sheriffsshuffle.com. The entry fee is $20 for adults, $10 for ages 10 and under. The first 300 entrants will receive a free T-shirt.
For more information, contact Peloquin at 547-8000 ext. 3104 or visit the Sheriff's Shuffle Web site.