Community races to support clean water

Cindy Petry dives headfirst on the slip and slide to finish the Wet Run 5k.

Runners get a sprint start as the Wet Run 5k officially begins.

Craig Petry gets hit by a bucket of water as he slides through the 5k finish.

Hundreds turn out for the free concert on behalf of the Wet Run 5k, Liberty University and Crosswhite Fitness.

When passion spills over into purpose, people around the world benefit. That’s the goal of Crosswhite Fitness owner and Wet Run 5k organizer Ben Crosswhite, whose sole mission of the Sunday race was to raise money for clean water.

“We’re not seeing a dime of this,” Crosswhite said as runners lined up to begin the 5k. “Every dollar donated goes to Causelife.”

Causelife is an organization which raises money for clean drinking water in areas that are severely deprived. In his yearly, or sometimes more frequent, trips to Guatemala, Crosswhite has seen the people and animals bathing in the same water source they use for drinking. “It really does open your eyes,” said Crosswhite of his journeys.

With recent weather fluctuating between cool days and warm, rainy days and sun, Crosswhite was nervous about what the weather may hold on the day of the event. Fortunately for the musicians, volunteers and organizers, the clouds moved through, leaving a mildly warm and sunny Sunday for racers to complete the mostly flat 3.1-mile course.

The event was titled the Wet Run not only because of the money being raised for clean drinking water, but also due to the sporadic hoses and sprinklers throughout the race and the inflated water slide at the end. As the tired, wet runners finished the course, each one was able to muster a little bit more energy for a smile and running start to dive headfirst through the inflated slide.

“It was a really fun race for a great cause,” said Craig Petry who, along with his wife Cindy, spent the weekend in Elkin to support Crosswhite and his cause. “We’re from Virginia, we workout with Ben so we’re just in town for the race.”

The couple also planned to stick around for the concert to support another of their friends, Charles Billingsley, who would perform later in the evening. “We’re big supporters of Charles,” the couple stated. “We get to hear him almost every Sunday.”

Members of local congregations also came out for the event including Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in State Road and Elkin Valley Baptist Church.

Local businessman and music lover Barry Revis attended the event along with his wife and other family members. “I’m looking forward to the music,” said Revis. “We’ve been a fan of Charles Billingsley from way back when we first saw him. It was when we were living in Jacksonville, Florida, about 25 years ago. He’s a great singer.”

After most racers finished, the food, games and bouncy houses were available until the music started. At 6 p.m. the house band for Liberty University known as Exodus took the stage before nationally renowned vocalist Charles Billingsley gave a performance.

Wanting to ensure good seats, many supporters came out early, lawn chairs in hand, to reserve their space.

As the sun set, the weather remained temperate as the park filled with more guests.

This event marked the first of its kind for the Elkin area, and Crosswhite, along with his fellow organizers, hope to make it a repeating occurrence that continually raises awareness for the needs of people around the world.

Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.

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