FALL RIVER, MA - People, Incorporated held its 8th Annual Miles for SMILES 5K Road Race and Walk on March 13th on Ring Road at UMass Dartmouth.

This year, the event featured a 1K fun-run for kids and over 125 runners registered for the event! All registered runners and registered walkers were chip-timed and received a long- sleeve t-shirt and gift bag. This family-friendly fundraiser supports the Agency’s school-based mentoring program, SMILES, in the Southcoast.

“Our greatest challenge continues to be obtaining sustainable funding necessary to properly support SMILES so that we can continue to provide quality programming throughout schools in our region”, states Bill Perkins, CEO of People, Incorporated. “The establishment of the SMILES program was a direct response to research that identified mentoring as one of the most effective strategies to keep at-risk students in school through graduation. Miles for SMILES is an annual event that raises funds to support SMILES and its mission to help at-risk children realize their personal and educational potential through a large scale one-to-one mentoring program. The funds raised at the 8TH Annual Miles for SMILES 5K Road Race and Walk will help SMILES continue to provide a mentor for every child in need in the Southcoast each week”, continued Perkins.

Local businesses, organizations and supporters participate in this event by becoming sponsors or runners and many form teams of walkers and compete with each other in on-line fundraising. Our two biggest supporters over the years have been BayCoast Bank, who for the eighth year in a row is the event’s Title Sponsor ($10,000). BayCoast Bank President Nick Christ, a SMILES mentor and competitive on-line fundraiser, has surpassed his personal and team fundraising goals again this year. Mechanics Cooperative Bank and its President, Joseph Baptista, Jr., continue to step up each year with a corporate sponsorship at the Mission Level and astounding on-line fundraising. The competition for the coveted Top Individual Fundraiser is close every year between these two remarkable men! This year Mechanics Cooperative Bank was awarded Top Fundraising Team and Joseph Baptista, Jr. was awarded Top Individual Fundraiser. It was a very close race and the SMILES program is beyond appreciative for the commitment to community, education, and mentorship these two organizations and leaders have shown! Thank you Nick, Joe, Team BayCoast Bank and Team Mechanics Cooperative Bank.

The competition didn’t stop there; during the 8th Annual Miles for SMILES 5K Road Race and Walk there was a 1K fun-run for children under the age of 12. Over thirty-five children participated and the top three finishers within their age categories were awarded a medal. Top finisher: 5 and under: Chloe Desrosiers; 5-9years: Steven Pereira; 10-12 years: Chloe Pereira. Immediately following the 1K fun-run, the 5K began at 9:30am sharp. Top three male finishers were First Place: Steven Souza; Second Place: Joseph Celia; Third Place: Peter Horvath. Top three female finishers were First Place: Devon Degrazia; Second Place: Susan Stukas; Third Place: Kyla Hatch. Congratulations to all of the top finishers and all of the runners and walkers!

Boards of Directors’ members, Janice Carrigg and Janna Lafrance were this year’s Miles for SMILES Co-Chairs and have been the driving force for our success. Both Janice and Janna have been SMILES mentors for years and have a passion for the children they mentored and know they have been a positive influence in a child’s life. They also have witnessed significant outcomes because of the SMILES Program and People, Incorporated is proud to have them as mentors and Board members.

Bristol County District Attorney, Thomas M. Quinn, III was this year’s honorary event chair and is committed to the work SMILES does for our at-risk-youth. He sees first hand that mentoring matters and we are grateful for his Community Level Sponsorship ($2,500) and his advocacy of SMILES. In addition to Mechanics Cooperative Bank supporting Miles for SMILES with their $1,000 Mission Sponsorship, we thank our other Mission Sponsors, Bristol Pacific Homes, Inc., Carl’s Collision Center, Inc., Reynolds DeWalt Corporation, Saint Anne’s Hospital, and Walsh Pharmacy of Rock Street. Our SMILE Sponsors ($500) BankFive, Borden & Remington Company, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Lafrance Hospitality Company, Southcoast Health, St. Anne’s Credit Union and The Gutter Cleaning Company truly recognize the impact of SMILES and we thank them, too, for stepping to the plate.

“This event is a wonderful way to support SMILES”, noted Jeffrey Marques, Chairman of the People, Incorporated Board of Directors. “Each year I am more impressed with the work our staff and all the volunteers bring to the SMILES Program. Even more impressive is that this year People, Incorporated employees have collectively raised over $10,000 for SMILES! As the Chairman of People, Incorporated’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the dedicated, passionate employees we have at our Agency who continue to live the mission of providing premier services to children and adults of all abilities in a collaborative and creative environment.”

For more information on how you can participate and continue the mission of SMILES, contact Aaron Hubley, Director of SMILES at (774)627-2438.