Beaufort News

3-day run to help charity could boost tourism, too

A Bluffton-based nonprofit group hopes to boost tourism spending in the off-season while raising money for breast cancer screening, treatment and research.

Laura Morgan, president of Carolina Cups, organized LoCo Motion, a three-day, 10-mile-a-day charity walk and run through Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. The event aims to raise money to fight breast cancer, help tourism and improve health.

Individuals can participate in one, two or all three days, running or walking as much as 30 miles.

"Not only does it promote a great cause while getting people to be more physically fit, but we believe it will also be a boost to our local economy at a time of year when occupancy is typically soft," Morgan said.

Organizers hope about 2,000 people will participate Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. Hundreds have already registered, Morgan said.

She expects about 60 percent of the participants to be visitors spending money on a minimum two-night stay, based on current registration and sponsorship.

Organizers hope the event will attract those training for larger national cancer charity races in the following weeks.

Morgan started Carolina Cups in 2009 after participating in a three-day, 60-mile Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity walk to raise money for breast cancer research. Participants commit to raise at least $2,300 and spend several months training.

"You're running and come across a cheering section filled with (breast cancer) survivors, and you're handed a bottle of water by a woman in a wheelchair receiving an IV drip. Here she is, bald, handing me a bottle of water saying, 'Thank you and God bless you for your effort.' It's humbling, inspiring and life-changing," Morgan said of wanting to create a smaller event for those lacking the time, training and fundraising to participate in the larger walks.

She anticipates LoCo Motion will gross $250,000 the first year through sponsorships, entry fees and fundraising. Money collected after expenses will be used for charitable grants to breast cancer-related organizations, such as the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, American Cancer Society, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Northside Hospital in Atlanta and Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Morgan said.

The money will help pay for free mammograms and research programs, she said.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital agreed to a $25,000 sponsorship. Hilton Head Hospital, Palmetto Running Co., WSAV-TV, The Westin Oceanfront Resort, Lowcountry Child and LoCo Boot Camp are also sponsors, according to a news release.

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