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FALL RIVER, MA - The SouthCoast Mentoring Initiative for Learning, Education and Service, Inc., otherwise known as SMILES, a program of People, Incorporated, hosted its 7th Annual Miles for SMILES 5K Road Race and Walk on Sunday March 22, 2015 at UMass Dartmouth.

While this event has taken place seven years in a row, this was SMILES’ inaugural 5K Road Race. “The inclusion of a certified, chip-timed 5K Road Race was important to us this year. As we challenged our community, our neighbors, family and friends to help bring in funding, spread awareness of this event as well as SMILES, we felt we needed to challenge ourselves too and did so by enhancing this already popular event to include a 5K Road Race”, stated Pamela O’Neill, Vice President of Communication and Administration at People, Incorporated as well as the Miles for SMILES event director. “We were thrilled that we had over 100 registered runners competing in the race which far surpassed our expectations. Moreover, we had over 250 walkers, not to mention all of the race and walk supporters who braved the cold to cheer on all event participants.”

Our fundraisers participated in this event by becoming sponsors and/or forming teams. Nick Christ, President of BayCoast Bank has supported the SMILES Program since its inception in 2003. As the Title Sponsor for the seventh year in a row, Christ and team BayCoast Bank’s financial support was outstanding both in sponsorship giving and individual and team fundraising. BayCoast Bank also had tremendous team presence and was voted as the Team with Most Spirit during the event. Joseph Baptista, Jr., President of Mechanics Cooperative Bank and his team have been huge supporters, too, and for the second year in a row, Mechanics Cooperative Bank came away with top honors for Top Fundraising Team and Baptista was given the title of Top Fundraiser. “We could not ask for better partners” stated Bill Perkins, CEO of People, Incorporated. “Both Team Mechanics Cooperative Bank and Team BayCoast Bank create significant enthusiasm throughout the months leading to the event which in turn helps bring awareness and funding to the SMILES program. This event and its successful outcomes are critical to the sustainability and future growth of the SMILES Program. This year, Miles for SMILES raised over $70,000 which helps us to fulfill the goal of SMILES: to help children realize their personal and educational potential through a large-scale one-to-one mentoring program.

Race participants received awards for First, Second, and Third Place finishes in both men’s and women’s categories. Fran Pectrsov came in first in the men’s division; Jason Paganelli, second; and Richard Cole placed third. In the women’s division, Devon Degrazia placed first; Kelly Dworak, finished in second place, and People, Incorporated’s Chief Financial Officer, Megan Scheffer secured the third-place win.

“This year was an overwhelming success and was the most attended event to date. We are incredibly grateful to all the businesses, organizations, committee members, participants and volunteers who continually and generously support SMILES and contributed to the success of this event”, added Perkins. The 7th Annual Miles for SMILES event is a wonderful way to support an organization that is making a positive impact on the community as it strives to improve the high school graduation rate by connecting caring adults with kids on a one-to-one mentoring basis. SMILES’ achievements are in part due to the support we receive from organizations such as BayCoast Bank Miles for SMILES Title Sponsor; Community Sponsor, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III; Mission Sponsors, Bristol Pacific Homes, Inc., Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Corp., Saint Anne’s Hospital, UMass Dartmouth, and Walsh Pharmacy of Rock St., Inc.; and the SMILE Sponsors, Boston Flooring, Health Care Pharmacy, Lafrance Hospitality Company, Mechanics Cooperative Bank, Rua-Dumont-Audet Insurance Agency, Inc., Southcoast Health, and St. Anne’s Credit Union.
Aaron Hubley, Program Director for SMILES stated, “We are thrilled over this year’s successful event and the new inquiries we have been receiving on becoming a SMILES mentor. We are always looking for caring, adult leaders to be mentors and we have many different mentoring programs that are flexible to meet the needs of our mentors. If you are interested in changing your life and having a positive impact on the life of a child, call me today at (774) 627-2438 or email me at ahubley@peopleinc-fr.org. Help us to Educate, Inspire, and Engage!”