Run, Roll and Sun 5K raises funds for Common Ground playground

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

In addition to raising funds for the Common Ground playground for disabled children, this year’s annual Run, Roll & Sun 5K on Saturday, May 30 honored Parks and Recreation Foundation employee Sheri Collins, who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

The Run, Roll & Sun 5K is an all-inclusive event that consists of both a timed 5K and a one-mile stroller and wheelchair-friendly course, followed by free admission to the municipal pool. Proceeds from participation fees go toward constructing a specialized playground called Common Ground that accommodates children of all abilities and encourages them to interact, according to the Mason Parks and Recreation Foundation.

It made sense to memorialize Collins’ death during this event because of the work she did for this project in her lifetime, according to Mason Community Center Wellness Supervisor Kelly Burchett.

“We thought it would be more than fitting if we honored (Collins) this year,” Burchett said. “The anniversary of her death was actually Monday and last year, her entire family came out, even though it was the weekend of her funeral, (to) support the event. Both the Parks Foundation and the City of Mason wanted to honor her and her family and all the work she did for the Parks Foundation.”

According to Collins’ mother, Donna Barker, the cause was very dear to her daughter’s heart.

“I worked in a special needs class,” Barker said. “I saw the disabilities and how they affected those children. We, as teachers, had to take the equipment out to the regular playground. It was very heavy (and) cumbersome…We know firsthand why this park should be built and Sheri did too; we discussed it quite a bit. It was her dream, so we (joined) her.”

Inspired by Collins’ efforts to construct an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, Barker said her and her husband were prompted to donate $5,000 to the Parks Foundation the day of the race.

“Her dad and I had discussed (donating the money), and we wanted to do something to honor Sheri’s life,” Barker said. “Ever since she came into the world, she was a selfless person. She was a peacemaker, she was an arbitrator, and she loved her fellow man.”

Barker said she believes that her daughter would be pleased with the turnout for such a great cause.

“We’re amazed that people would take the time and effort to come out,” Barker said. “It’s heartwarming. I know our child would be thrilled that we could come together for one purpose.”

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Photos by Abbey Marshall