Compassion Color 5K raises funds for indigent health care, hospice

Compassion Color 5K raises funds for indigent health care, hospice

With Jefferson County commissioners and the Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice declaring November “Home Care & Hospice Month,” what better time to get colorful for a cause by participating in the Compassion Color 5K run set for Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Beaumont Event Centre?

Tickets for the run are $40 per individual and $35 per team member with teams consisting of four runners minimum and 100 maximum. Prices include admission to the afterparty and concert featuring up-and-coming singer Kree Harrison, the Woodville native who turned heads at American Idol by battling her way to second place during the show’s 12th season. The Flava Band and Matthew Lewis will open for Harrison. The concert will take place on the lawn of the Event Centre, where food vendors will be selling barbeque and other appetizing selections. Partygoers can also participate for a chance to win door prizes at the post-event celebration. Tickets for the after party are $10 for those who do not take part in the Compassion Color 5K.

Compassion Color 5K sign-in will begin at 8 a.m., with the run scheduled for 9 a.m. The course is set throughout downtown, starting and ending back at the Event Centre. Runners are encouraged to wear white and to register before the event at www.compassionhospice.org/color. Ages 6 and over must register for the event. Runners who register beforehand will receive an e-mail with information on when and where to pick up their racing gear — an event shirt, a color bag, race number and a bag of items donated by the event’s sponsors, which include Kicker 95.1, Ayers Inc., World Gym and Compassion Hospice, among others.

“We’re just looking to put on an event that people would like to attend that not only benefits the community but also can fundraise to help with indigent care,” said Allen Ayers, owner of Compassion Hospice, the area’s only locally owned, nationally accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit hospice according to its Web site. Ayers said the fun begins at each kilometer marker, where stationed volunteers will spray runners with color and continues with a post-race color throw, where the crowd will throw color on finishing runners every 15 minutes. Registrants will receive a color packet to help douse those runners who may have escaped the rainbow of vibrancy.

Color packets used are made up of food grade cornstarch —100 percent natural and safe, according to a Compassion Color 5K press release, which also recommends runners wear protective eye and face wear to help keep accidental color splashes out of their eyes and faces.

The event allows Southeast Texans to let loose and get a little wacky, Ayers said.

“There will be some people out there dressed in tutus and other people dressed in funny hats,” among other crazy antics, he said.

Compassion Color 5K is the latest in a trend of fundraising themed runs sweeping the state of Texas. Ayers said he got the idea from a color run in Amarillo.

“They had 11,000 runners in it, and I thought that would be a fun event to put on down here in Beaumont,” he said.

Thirty-three-year-old Melissa Jimenez Gutierrez, an escrow processor at Stewart Title, a Compassion Color 5K sponsor, said she recently ran in the Neon Splash Dash in Houston, a night run in which black lights are placed around a course where runners are sprayed with fluorescent glow water, as well as the Julie Rogers Gift of Life 5K Ribbon Run Color Rush, another color run in Beaumont. Gutierrez said she would be participating in Compassion Color 5K as well, as part of Stewart Title’s team Nov. 9.

“It’s a really good atmosphere,” Gutierrez said. “It’s something fun, something to help out … and provides really good photo ops.”

Photos that Gutierrez said will definitely end up on Facebook.

“One of the first things we do afterward is just post pictures to show what we’ve done,” she said, adding that knowing the funds raised are for a good cause makes the experience that much more rewarding.

All funds raised from the event will stay in the community to aid in financial support for medical care, food, medications and basic needs for hospice patients who have no other means to pay for these services, said Paula Baxter, community educator at Compassion Hospice.

“Compassion Hospice was founded on the idea that no one should be denied healthcare, especially end-of-life care,” Baxter said. “We don’t turn anyone away for hospice care whether they’re insured or not. A lot of the indigent or non-funded patients that we have don’t have insurance because they can no longer work and they no longer have insurance benefits through their employer.”

There is a high rate of cancer patients in Southeast Texas who are too young for Medicare and unqualified for Medicaid, Ayers said. These patients find themselves without insurance or the funding they need for medical costs during a point in their life when they need it the most — a time when they should be worried about spending every waking hour with their families. That’s where compassion hospice comes in, Baxter said.

“In the past six years, we’ve (provided) about $500,000 in free hospice care for patients that didn’t have insurance,” she said. “The money that we raise from this event will go toward being able to continue to provide that care to people that need it.”

Compassion Hospice does everything it can to provide its patients with a high quality of life, Baxter said.

“We want the time that they have remaining to not be painful,” she said. “Typically if someone goes on hospice care early enough, the quality of life can be raised so that they can possibly go to the beach one more time or visit family or friends they haven’t seen in a while. Make the most of their last days.”

Patients that enter hospice service typically have about 29 days longer with comfort care than they would without it, Baxter said, citing National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization statistics.

“When you’re in pain, mentally you don’t do as well,” Baxter said. “When your pain is controlled, your mental attitude is better so then your physical (condition) can be better. It can actually add some days to their lives.”

Compassion Hospice provides relief for family members acting as caregivers who might find themselves overwhelmed by loved ones who are constantly in pain as well, Baxter added.

“If hospice can come in and help control symptoms and pain, it helps the family,” she said. “They’re not constantly worried about their loved one being uncomfortable.

In addition to the nursing care, Compassion Hospice has aides that can go in and provide personal care to give family caregivers a chance to take a much-needed break. Other services include social workers that are available to provide counseling and bereavement coordinators and chaplains to help with grief issues and spiritual comfort.

“It’s just a chance to do something fun as a family,” Ayers said. “There’s not a whole lot of things out there that people from (ages) 1 to 99 can participate in together, but as long as you can make it around the course — jogging, running, skipping, walking or hobbling — you’re welcome to participate.”

For more information about the event or Compassion Hospice, visit compassionhospice.org.

See related story here: http://theexaminer.com/stories/news/%E2%80%98kreedom%E2%80%99-returns-setx-perform-event-centre-nov-9

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