400 Faithful Help Fill Fredericksburg, Va., Food Bank

While many city residents slept in on the morning of Saturday, May 21, nearly 400 community members gathered along Sophia Street before 7 a.m. to volunteer and test their mettle in the Third Annual Family Fun Run.

The event benefited the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, which said the charity race raised 1,255 pounds of food and $70 in donations — enough to provide over 1,500 meals to the community.

“Most running events require an entry fee, but not the Family Fun 5K Run. Instead, we asked for donations of food,” said 14-year-old Andrew Fellows, who began planning the event as his Eagle Scout project in March. His troop is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which hosted the event.

Physical therapy student Adam Roggia was the first to cross the finish line at Saturday’s event with a time of 18:34.

“This is always a really good cause…the food bank. You are racing for something.” Roggia’s simple statement says a lot about his passion for not only running, but serving. He learned the value of helping others from his father, a retired Army chaplain currently living in Africa while serving as a mission leader for the Utah-based church.

Roggia put his own schooling on hold to spend two years of missionary service in Italy. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and completed his master’s degree in sports condition at Southern Utah University. Roggia currently works at a local shoe store, VA Runner, and trains runners in his spare time.

While some ran on Saturday hoping for their personal best, others jogged or walked while pushing strollers or leading dogs. Three nationally ranked speedskaters used the run as a training event for the upcoming South East Regional Indoor Championships.

“We hope all involved had a good time. It was certainly for a good cause,” said Brad Sant, who helps lead the 14 local Latter-day Saint congregations in the Fredericksburg region. “Our local churches are mindful that there are some in our community who, through no fault of their own, on occasion find themselves needing assistance. We are excited to annually host this 5k run to support those who may need assistance and also to create opportunities for families to participate together on fun activities.”

Sant said that from the inception of the church’s founding, members have worked to provide food and help to those in need. In 1936, the Utah-based church formalized that effort with the establishment of a welfare program, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary. Leaders in Utah recently encouraged members across the world to commemorate this anniversary with a day of service.