The Seaside Neighborhood School half marathon and 5k race is returning for its 11th year on March 3, with the largest number of runners yet.
This year's number of runners and walkers was capped at 4,000 and both races sold out in September 2012, just one week and three weeks, respectively, after registration opened. Last year's participants totaled 3,500.
For the second year, the school is hosting a pre-race party dubbed An Evening for Education Under the Stars at Alys Beach's Caliza pool on March 1, with music this year by Rhett Miller of the rock 'n roll quartet the Old 97's.
And, there will again be a silent auction that will start at noon on Saturday during the race expo. Bid will be open until 6 p.m. that day in the Seaside Amphitheatre, where 50 vendors of all sorts will be set up. The auction will officially close on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.
To host such a massive event in such a small community requires in the neighborhood of 350 volunteers to ensure it runs smoothly, said Sally Bailey, public relations chairperson for the SNS board.
Besides being a cool and fun thing to do, the reason for the race is it is the principal fundraiser for Seaside Neighborhood School, which is dependent on it.
SNS, established in 1996, was one of the first three charter schools in the state. As a charter school, it receives some funding from the state for basics, but much of the money to fund technology equipment and extracurricular activities must be raised.
Bailey said the approximately $250,000 raised last year through this event paid off the school's deficit.
Fortunately, due to the event's scenic location, the fact that it benefits a school, and is sponsored by popular Vera Bradley (all racers get a free tote), the race is very popular and participants come from all over the country — and beyond.
Rick Helfand, president of the board of Seaside School Foundation, started the race. Although he has no children, he said he always wanted to help children when he retired.
"Children are the future of our country and the better kids we produce and can help, the better our future will be," said Helfand.
The Seaside School, Inc. Foundation was founded to support and benefit the Seaside School, Inc. The foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization governed by a board of directors comprised of community and business members, along with educators. One-hundred percent of all donations directly benefit the Seaside School, Inc.
Before retirement, Helfand was an executive with McDonald's.
Thanks to people such as Helfand, who donate hours tirelessly to the school, SNS has consistently been recognized for excellence in education.
Seaside School serves students in sixth through ninth grade with a vision to expand to elementary and high school grade levels. SNS received the national 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award by the U.S. Secretary of Education. In 2011, the Seaside School was recognized again for its excellence in education by earning a high performing charter school status from the Florida Department of Education. Along with its high performing status, the Seaside School is ranked third among 583 middle schools in the state of Florida.
30A closes at 6 a.m. to all traffic on race day, so plan accordingly. Parking is available at the Watercolor Publix on County Road 395. For more information on the weekend's events, visit www.snsrun.com/weekend-events.
Rhett Miller of the Old 97's to headline pre-race party in Alys Beach
The Seaside School Foundation Inc. announced recently that Rhett Miller, the front man and main songwriter of the rock ‘n’ roll quartet the Old 97’sand an accomplished solo artist, will be the featured entertainment for the pre-race party on March 1. An Evening for Education Under the Stars at Caliza Pool in AlysBeach is just part of the many events for the Seaside School Inc. 5K and Half Marathon weekend, which runs March 1 to March 3. The intimate evening will start at 7 p.m. and conclude at 10 p.m. with Miller taking the stage around 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 plus service fees. Tickets for this 18-years-and-older show are available through www.ticketalternative.com or 1-877-725-8849 For more information on this event, please visit www.snsrun.com/weekend-events. For more information about Rhett Miller, please visit www.rhettmiller.com. For more information about Alys Beach, visit www.alysbeach.com. Presented by Vera Bradley, the 2013 Seaside Race attracts runners from around the country and is one of the signature fundraising events for the Seaside School Inc., an award-winning public charter school in South Walton County Florida.