FARMINGTON – Wearing makeup resembling rotten flesh, Erin Gockel and Melissa Vigil were ready to run in ECHO Inc.’s Zombie Run in Berg Park.
The pair were among a handful of runners who dressed the room on October 9.
It was the first time that ECHO – Economic Council Helping Others Inc. – organized a fun 5K, 10K run to raise money for its food aid and emergency programs and operations.
âI can’t say enough positive things about them. I think they go above and beyond, so whatever they do – we want to support them as they give back to the community,â Gockel said, who volunteered for the nonprofit association. organization for years.
âGood luck everyone,â said ECHO CEO Nanette Pinckney. âRun your heart out, don’t get caught by zombies over there. “
The Zombie Run developed after ECHO canceled the Blue Jeans Ball, an annual fundraising event, due to restrictions on social gatherings due to COVID-19, Pinckney said in an interview.
âSo we figured an outside event would be a bit better and maybe not as difficult for people trying to follow all CDC rules and COVID protocols,â she said.
ECHO is a âcommunity action agencyâ that administers several programs and offers services such as a food bank, distribution of hygiene kits and financial assistance to pay for rent, utilities or funeral costs.
They also operate a preschool in Aztec and a warehouse in Albuquerque that serves free meals to seniors.
Pinckney said the organization saw demand for services and assistance increase during the pandemic, including a 60% increase in its food programs, and demand for rents and utility payments increased by 800% .
âWe worked hard and diligently to get as much CARES funding as possible so that we could help as many people as possible. It’s starting to slow down now, but we’ve helped a lot of people during the pandemic, âshe said.
Resources such as federal coronavirus relief payments obtained from the state government and donations have supported ECHO’s work throughout the pandemic, she explained.
However, the organization’s work continues, as does the need for fundraising, so proceeds from the Zombie Run will help with that, Pinckney said.
There were 61 runners who competed in the 5K and 10K races and 12 participants in the fun run.
The timed race route took place through Berg Park and Animas Park.
Near the Riverside Nature Center in Animas Park stood Andrew Mangold, who was disguised as Michael Myers, the character from the “Halloween” movie series.
Mangold explained that he was there because his wife and daughter were running 10K, so he came out to “embarrass them”.
His appearance there caused a pair of runners to approach cautiously. One ended up picking up speed because she didn’t know what to expect.
Her friend stopped slightly to ask Mangold if he was going to chase them away. His answer was no, then he started to clap and applaud as the group passed.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at [email protected]
Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.