Flamingo 5K returns to Belhaven Saturday

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

BELHAVEN — Native to the lowlands of South Florida, the flamingo is a curious bird. With bright pink plumage and a propensity for dining on shrimp, it is one of the brightest and most colorful creatures to reside in North America.

It also happened to be among Belhaven resident Darleen Smith’s favorite animals, and it is her love for the majestic flamingo that gave name to the annual 5K race taking place in her honor this Saturday in Belhaven.

“My mom had breast cancer, and she fought it for five years,” event organizer Nikki Klapp said. “After she passed away, we wanted to do something to honor her memory. The idea of a 5K came up because she loved the community she lived in, she loved being outdoors and being active outside, and she loved flamingos. So we just combined that all and came up with a 5K.”

Darleen’s Flamingo 5K, now in its ninth year, serves as a fundraiser for Shepard Cancer Center in Washington. In its initial year, funds from the event were donated to the American Cancer Center, but after some evaluation, organizers made the decision to keep the money raised in the community.

“We decided it was important for the money to be used locally for Beaufort County residents,” Klapp said.

Over the years, the event has grown, from less than 100 participants in its first year to more than 200 during the most recent run. Likewise, the community of Belhaven has thrown its support behind the event, swelling the ranks of volunteers for the race from a small group during the inaugural race to a team of more than 50 dedicated volunteers to help things run smoothly.

“Each year, we get more and more sponsors, and it’s really just been a word-of-mouth effort where people have participated as racers or heard other business owners talking about it,” Klapp said. “We’ve been embraced by the Belhaven community.”

Registration for this year’s Flamingo 5K begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning at the end of Hubs Rec Road in Belhaven. The race starts promptly at 9 a.m., with a breakfast to follow for participants. Cost to register is $25, and T-shirts will be available for purchase during the event. Online signup continues through today at runsignup.com/Race/NC/Belhaven/DarleensFlamingo5K, and participants can also register on the day of the event.

“We are extremely grateful to our community, our sponsors and our friends and family,” Klapp said. “Without them, this race would not happen.”