The Christian camp, which is associated with Baptist Network Northwest and based in Carnation, offers day and overnight camp experiences for children and teens.
During the summer, it hosts 200 campers per week, who come to swim, boat, skateboard and hone their skills in a variety of other sports and activities.
"We have kids from all over Puget Sound who come to our camp," says Kimberly Mallory, Gilead’s program director. "Many are repeat campers and some go on to become counselors themselves."
For those who cannot afford the $260 fee for the week-long sessions, the camp helps defray the cost through scholarships.
This year, to enable more kids in need to participate, Mallory and her staff were motivated to organize a 5K River Run.
The event, which was held on Memorial Day, was a solid success.
"This was the first time we did anything like this," comments Mallory. "We were hoping for 200 runners so we were thrilled that 262 people showed up to participate." She adds, "We raised over $8,000 and all of it will go to scholarships because the entire cost of the race was covered by local businesses. We had an outpouring of support from the community and everyone was so generous with their donations of prizes, gift cards and cash. We are so thankful to everyone who helped make the event a success and we definitely plan to do it again next year on Memorial Day."
Among those who participated in the race were a number of area residents. Of note is the Markezich family, who gets props for having nine members in their group. Ron and Debbie Markezich and their four kids: Jordan, 14, Cambria, 12, twins Andrea and Olivia,10, along with Ron’s father, Ron Sr., and mother Beverly, and last, but not least, the family’s dog, Meeko, all competed in the race.
Four of the clan took home medals in their age groups. Ron and son Jordan won first place, Ron Sr. got second and Andrea came in third. Though this was the first time the family participated in a race together, Ron, Ron Sr., Jordan, Andrea and Olivia are all runners of their own accord.
"My husband ran for Notre Dame," says Debbie Markezich. "He was All-American for cross-country in 1988." She adds, "Jordan competes for his school, Bellevue Christian, where he is the top runner. And the twins are on the track team for their school, East Ridge Elementary."
Debbie’s background is figure skating. She competed in the World University Games and the U.S. Nationals back in the mid-1980s.
Cambria is following in her mom’s footsteps as a figure skater and is already in the competition circuit.
And then there’s Ron Sr., or "Papa," as he is affectionately called. He took up running when his son, Ron, turned 12, and he’s been at it ever since.
Beverly, or "Nana," is no slouch either, though she prefers to walk, not run, and had no trouble finishing the 5K.
As for Meeko the family dog, Debbie says, "He’s very athletic and he goes running with my husband all the time. He and Andrea were a team during the event, so he technically came in third along with her."
Jordan describes the course as flat with a few minor hills. He comments, "It was a pretty good field, especially for a first-time race. I had some decent competition, however, I wasn’t real happy with my time. Even though I came in first, I could have done better. My personal best is 19 minutes and I did the Gilead in 20:15.
He adds, "But the pancake breakfast afterwards was great!"
The Markezich family plans to make the event an annual tradition. Debbie says, "It was so much fun to do it together and we really like the idea of the money going for a good cause."