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Last updateFri, 26 Sep 2014 6pm

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Charity run catches St. Patrick’s Day spirit

HavenHospice5K_2012_9358_copyParticipants in the Third Annual Run for Haven Hospice show their St. Patrick's Day spirit as they take off from the starting line on Saturday.

NEWBERRY – A bright green shamrock was fastened to a black dog named Pitch. The owner pinned a matching shamrock to her head. Morgan Higman, 21, fastened the handmade shamrocks so they wouldn’t fall off when they were running.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and these residents chose to spend the day on a charity run for Haven Hospice.

The Third Annual Run for Haven 5K and 10K began at 4:30 p.m. Though it rained toward the end of the day, Susan Follick, director of marketing and communications for Haven Hospice, said some still finished in the pouring rain.

There were 610 runners in this year’s race, Follick said. Each runner paid a registration fee that went to the non-profit hospice care center. According to a press release from the hospice, the race doubled in size from last year, making it the second largest race in the Gainesville area.

The overall 5k fastest runner was Donny Monteau, who finished at 16 minutes and 15 seconds. The fastest 10k runner was Shane Stroop, who finished at 37 minutes and 10 seconds.

Domino’s Pizza, Blue Highway Pizza and Right Path Transport were just some of the vendors at the event. The annual run also featured live music from Dottie South and the Slackers and cheering from the Newberry High School cheerleaders.

Higman finished the race with her two dogs, Pitch and Norma Jean, by her side. She was given a plastic gold medal, but her two canine companions were not as lucky.

“They didn’t give him a medal, and that was a shame,” she said.

She gave Pitch her medal instead.

Higman and her dogs weren’t the only ones dressed up for the race. St. Augustine resident Joanie Selph, 62, and her daughter Stephanie Jarnol, 38, of Gainesville, were decked out in green tutus and necklaces.

Jarnol was part of Giggle magazine’s Big Weight Loss Challenge. The six members of that program had to run a 5k to complete the program.

Still others had creative ways of incorporating green into their ensemble. Taren Delisle and her son, Ethan Drew, 11, sprayed their hair green for the St. Patrick’s Day run.

“I’ve always wanted to dye my hair green,” Ethan said.

Their motivation was more than just exercise, Delisle said. Delisle’s grandfather had died in a hospice, so running for Haven Hospice was special to her.

Haven Hospice is a non-profit care center that has facilities across Florida. They have inpatient care centers in Chiefland, Gainesville, Lake City and Palatka.

One thing that makes Haven Hospice unique, Follick said, is the fact that the organization has licensed doctors on staff.

The organization has been licensed as a non-profit hospice since 1980 and offers end-of-life care for those without insurance. The organization also offers free grief counseling programs for those who have recently lost a loved one, even if they were not at Haven Hospice.

Follick said the reason behind running was one thing that brought people to the race.

“I think part of it is who they’re running for,” she said.