Athol: Lions Club Virtual 5K raising funds to help the community

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 3/1/2021 3:35:42 PM
Modified: 3/1/2021 3:35:40 PM

ATHOL — “First of all, it’s not a race.”

Event organizer Karen Perkins, speaking with the Athol Daily News, wanted to make sure local residents don’t mix up anything the Lions Club is doing with the Big Cheese 5K that often takes place at this time of year, just prior to the River Rat Race.

That being said, this virtual competition is being called the Athol Lions Dust Off Spring Fling 5K.

Perkins said that, thus far, four sponsors have lined up to help support the event. They include Workers Credit Union, Orange Oil, Flint Garage Sales and Lyman Signs. The cost of sponsorship is $75 and Perkins is hopeful other businesses will soon sign up to help.

A course has been laid out that participants can walk or run all at once or a section at a time. Perkins told the Athol Daily News in an earlier interview that the course runs from Ocean State Job Lot, down and around the back to Traverse Street, Main Street, to Crescent and Silver Lake, down in back of the Pequoig, Exchange Street, down behind Tool Town by Fish Park, and back to Job Lot. Various lengths of the route will be marked.

“It’s being held close to the center,” she said, “so that we can get some visibility for some of the businesses. But it’s also not directly down Main Street so that we don’t have a lot of commotion going on on the main roads, either.”

Registration is $20 per individual or $35 per family.

“We wanted to make sure it was as affordable as possible,” she said.

Those interested can register by going to the Athol Lions Dust Off Spring Fling page on Facebook anytime between now and March 21. The course itself can be completed at the participant’s convenience between March 13 and 22.

Perkins stressed that monies raised will not be used to support the Lions Club but to help the Lions serve the needs of residents in the community. She said many people have little idea of just how much the club does to help families and individuals in North Quabbin.

“No, no, no,” she said adamantly. “We don’t take any money from the community to do our ‘club stuff.’ The money that comes into the club from community gets put right back into the community, whether it be for eye glasses or a community member that doesn’t have the money to fully pay.

“Often, through D’Ambrosio (Eye Care), they’ll go in and do their thing — say, it’s $400 to get a pair of glasses — and they come to us, they fill out the financial forms, and we get those glasses for them.”

The Lions also assist with the purchase of hearing aids.

“I never realized,” Perkins exclaimed, “they are really expensive. I was shocked. It’s like you’re getting a new appendage. I was just shocked.”

She also said the organization can connect local residents with some of the best care in the country.

“The Lions Club, through Mass. Eye & Ear, we are able to, one, get you into Mass. Eye & Ear to make sure that you get exactly what you need, plus we can help financially as well.”

But the generosity of the club doesn’t just cover the need for vision or hearing care, Perkins explained.

“I think it was last summer when a young man was in a car accident,” she said, “and he couldn’t come home because they had stairs. He wasn’t going to be able to come home unless he had a handicap accessible ramp. So, we went and got a ramp and installed it at his house.”

At some point, she said, she hopes to get the mobile vision unit available through the state Lions Club organization to come to area schools to provide some vision screening for local students.

She said anyone needing assistance should log onto the Athol Lions Club Facebook page and send details via the “Messenger” link. There is also a phone number available on the Lions International web page.

So, anyone who would like to help your neighbors in any number of ways can do so by accessing the Athol Lions Dust Off Spring Fling page on Facebook and registering for this event.

Greg Vine can be reached at

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