I am Local 6: Bill Cardin creates marathon to feed families

Kids are heading home for summer break, but many of them will go home to empty shelves and pantries. Food pantries are filling that need as best they can, but a rise in food assistance need in the summer combined with a drop in donations means it can be hard to keep up.

But, a while back, Bill Cardin decided to help change that for his community.

In just a few days, people will pack into West Frankfort Community Park for the inaugural 5,000 Can Marathon. Cardin helped to organize the event, which is a walk and race around the park designed to help feed families. He said he had the idea working with Boy Scout groups, seeing the need firsthand with every box and can of food they collected.

"It’s all to raise canned goods. We’re trying to raise at least 5,000 canned goods or more for the food banks in Franklin County," Cardin said. He said seeing all the inspiration and ideas through different volunteer groups online, he knew he could help feed the families of Franklin County who need a little help in the summer months.

"I decided that I wanted to help people in the area who are poor and needy. But I thought it would be better to find a way to show it, and not just pray for it," Cardin said. And it’s not just runners who can get involved. Kids 5-years-old and up can walk or run, and the area will be handicap-accessible, so everyone can participate.

"I thought that everyone ought to have a shot to come out and contribute something, so that’s why we have things set up for people who are handicapped to push a wheelchair around the park, or if they want to ride their scooter or whatever they want to do," Cardin said.

Every lap taken by racers will bring in more canned goods for Franklin County food pantries.

"As long as I know I’m helping at least one family, it’s a blessing," said Grace Baptist Fellowship Church food pantry director Tammy Moore. She and her family volunteer often, putting in countless hours buying and packing up bags of food for the church’s monthly food pantry. She said they do their best to keep up with the demand, but it does increase in the summer.

"We serve about 60 to 100 families a month. And, definitely, there’s families that come in, and you can tell they’re definitely in need," Moore said. Where donations come in regularly in the winter near Christmas-time, she said unfortunately, donations regularly hit a slump in the summer. She says it’s great to see people like Cardin working to help feed the people in their community.

"People talk about helping families over in another country or something like that, which is great and fine, but you see that need right here in our own town," Moore said.

Cardin said if his can marathon can feed even one family, it’ll be well worth the effort.

The 5,000 Can Marathon will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, at West Frankfort Park. Participants should meet at the park’s Aquatic Center entrance and look for the red pavilion or park shelter near the concession stand.

There is no fee for participants, but you can sponsor runners and walkers by donating canned goods for each lap they take. Businesses and community groups have already donated some canned goods for the event, Cardin says.

There will be races for different age groups and for runners, walkers and people using wheelchairs or scooters.  All donations brought in will be distributed to all the Franklin County food banks.  

For more information or questions about the event, email lymerfl@gmail.com or call Bill Cardin at 618-438-1099.

Need food assistance or looking to donate to a food pantry? Click here to find one near you.

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