Darleen’s Flamingo 5K still on for Saturday

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

BELHAVEN — For the past seven years, the Smithton community has gathered to honor one of its own.

Linda Darleen Smith was a loving wife, mother and grandmother, a lifelong resident of eastern North Carolina and of Smithton (near Belhaven) for many years, and a well-known librarian at Northeast Elementary School.

Smith was also a brave cancer survivor, fighting with all she had until her death in 2010 at the age of 59.

To keep her memory and spirit alive, her family, along with a slew of volunteers, hosts the annual Darleen’s Flamingo 5K in Smithton — a nod to breast cancer awareness as well as Darleen’s bright, fun-loving life motto: “You make your own party.”

All of the money raised goes to the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center, keeping the support local and benefitting fellow residents. Last year’s event raised $17,000 for the Cancer Center, and involved a total of 147 racers and 50 volunteers.

Nikki Klapp, Darleen’s daughter, said the support for the Flamingo 5K over the years has been humbling. Besides the racers and volunteers, she said there are also many people who come out to cheer on the runners.

This year is expected to be no different, and despite the recent threat of floodwaters, the seventh-annual 5K race is still on for Saturday morning.

Originally organized to honor her mother, Klapp said the event has expanded and taken on a deeper meaning for the whole community.

“It’s now grown to that this is just an event that the community looks forward to,” she said. “It’s banded our community together. We have always been a close-knit area.”

Klapp said she and her family are grateful for all of the support they have received, whether donating money, running the 5K or cheering on the runners. All of the supporters are what make the event possible, she said.

Online registration ended Thursday night, but Klapp said those who want to participate can still register the morning of the race, between 7 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

The race begins at 9 a.m., and breakfast will be served afterward. As of Thursday, Klapp said there were about 100 people pre-registered for the event.

“We’ve just built stronger ties together,” she said of how the race brings people together. “People reach out and talk more.”

Darleen’s Flamingo 5K begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hubs Rec Road in Belhaven, near the Pungo Creek Marina. For more information, visit www.flamingo5k.org.