Charity race sets online giveaway

Published 9:26 pm Friday, April 21, 2017

A Suffolk woman is holding an online giveaway for supporters of her upcoming charity race.

The second annual StrongWILL Fun Run and Walk will be held in the Driver community in October during Driver Days. The nonprofit organization’s founder and president, April Brooks, is encouraging support and race signups with two contests during the next two weeks.

Brooks founded StrongWILL in memory of her brother, William West, who died last year from an overdose. The organization raises awareness about drug addiction, and helps people struggling with addiction by raising money for local organizations that provide resources for addicts and their families.

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“We wanted to do something for the community,” Brooks said. “We wanted all the proceeds to stay around here.”

Brooks is donating two StrongWILL blender bottles for the two online contests. One will be for Facebook users who promote the StrongWILL event for Driver Days. Applicants must all write about why they support the event or about the impact it has on the community.

Brooks said 218 supporters registered for the race last year after she organized the events in less than three months. She said part of that success was due to social media.

“We got people like that, because people reached out to others through our page,” she said.

The other blender bottle will go to one of the supporters that registers for the race in the next two weeks.

“I’m hoping to have about 300 this year,” she said.

All entries for promoting the Facebook page must be submitted through April 29, and the winner will be announced April 30. All racers that register in the next two weeks will be eligible to win the other blender bottle, with the cutoff on May 6 and the announcement on May 7.

“The whole plan is to be community focused and have a local impact,” she said.

The first run/walk last year raised more than $5,500, and the organization was able to receive nonprofit status. This year, Brooks hopes to raise $15,000.

“It’s go big or go home,” she said.

She said data last year showed an average of three Virginians died every day from an overdose. Brooks wants people to know this epidemic exists. She wants to remove the stigma associated with it and for people to start talking about it more and get help for themselves or loved ones.

“I would do anything to have my brother back,” she said. “It’s worth it to save a life, or to make sure somebody comes home to their family and lives another day. It’s all about raising awareness and helping out.”

Volunteers can support the event through other donations. Visit for more information. Visit the StrongWILL Driver Days Run/Walk Facebook page to sign up for the October race.