Mark Dana, President of the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, said their annual Savannah Mile race is an important community event for two main reasons.
“First, we want to raise awareness and honor those that give the ultimate sacrifice to our nation. And second, this is a fundraiser for our organization.”
Dana explains the club takes on about a $250,000 commitment when they respond to a tragedy. He’s talking about the Two Hundred Club’s mission to provide immediate financial assistance to the surviving spouse and children of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives or suffer critical injuries in the line-of-duty.
That assistance includes a fully-paid college education to the surviving family members, including tuition, room and board, textbooks and a computer. The Two Hundred Club 20 counties in Georgia and South Carolina — that's about 9,500 men and women in uniform, Dana said.
Dana said what makes their group different from others is that they stay in contact with these families every year by sending assistance and meals during the holidays and sending roses on Mother’s Day. They also invite these families to all of their events, like the Savannah Mile.
The 14th annual Savannah Mile will start at 8 a.m. May 25. The course begins at the south end of Forsyth Park, goes down Drayton Street and ends on Broughton Street. The awards and celebration take place in Johnson Square immediately following the last heat.
Dana added that the mile race is timed and heats begin with slower walkers. The next to last heat is the Memory Walk which features families of fallen first responders along with an honor guard and procession.
The final heat is the Heroes Heat that features elite first responders and military runners competing in full gear for the “All Out Flag.”
“The winner of the Heroes Heat gets to take the flag back to their firehouse or office,” Dana said. “They get to put their patch on it and bring it back the following year to defend their title."