By Juanice Gray
That is the amount raised for the Lions Camp through the Kasey’s Heart & Soul: Run, Walk & Roll in only seven years. While the dollar amount is impressive, it’s the family, volunteers, organizers and community whose numbers should really shine. It takes a community to raise a child as the saying goes; it also takes a community to remember one.
The annual fundraiser came from tragedy with the loss of one of Natchitoches’ own shining stars whose young life was impacted by two summers as a counselor at the Louisiana Lions Camp. Her memory lives on in the renovations to bunkhouses and buildings, one named in her honor, and scholarships provided to 15 campers with physical disabilities.
As with all things, change is imminent, and the Kasey’s Heart & Soul; Run, Walk & Roll will cease after the March 10 event this year.
Tina Ragan, Kasey’s mother and event chair, said it was just the right time. “It’s has had an amazing run, but we all knew it was the right time to change. Kasey was killed March 10 and this year the event will be March 10. It’s also been seven years, which is God’s number.”
Tina and husband Wayne are now grandparents to a wonderful toddler named Rhett who deserves more of their time and attention. That is also a factor in their decision to end Kasey’s Race.
The giving will not end though, it will continue in other formats, but this will be the last run. “Good things can still be done for the camp,” Ragan said. “God put the Lions Camp in her life and in ours. It has given us and other people a purpose.”
As with most things, this final race has everything in place to be the best. The tagline for this year’s race is “Fearless. Always.” It stands for remaining fearless in all you do, and always, the first word in a message Kasey wrote to her friends at camp, “Always strive to be all you can be and never let anyone or anything stop you from following your dreams.”
Planning began last summer and amped up over the winter to bring everything together. Co-Chair Kristi Fredieu, volunteer organizer Kelli Sampson and graphics designer Robert Frederick combined efforts to create shirts, dog tags and other items for participants. Winners in the race will also receive a canvas or poster of artwork created at Lions Camp the previous summer.
“This fundraiser has been one of the most tremendous things that ever happened for us,” said Lions Camp Director Ray Cecil.
Last day to register and be guaranteed a T-shirt is Feb. 23. Virtual runners (supporters who do not wish to walk or run) may also get a T-shirt for $20.
Registration is also accepted the day of the event at Collin’s Pavilion on the NSU campus.
“Ray and our family say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to each and every one who sponsored, participated and volunteered,” Ragan said. “Please join us one more time March 10.”
Money, dates, amounts…we keep going back to numbers:
•$32,000 goal this year
•100 volunteers (minimum) per event
•One young woman who changed so many lives and will never be forgotten.