“Torch Run” to Benefit Church Street Ministries; Lydia Esparra to Host
BEREA: The first annual “Torch Run” to benefit Church Street Ministries (CSM), a non-profit organization which assists Cuyahoga County families in need, will be held Sunday, September 16 at Berea’s Wallace Lake within the Cleveland Metroparks. The First Church of Berea is hosting the event with all proceeds going to the outreach programs and services of Church Street Ministries.
Lydia Esparra, Emmy winning news anchor at WOIO Channel 19 Action News, is the celebrity host for the affair. Esparra is the first Latina news anchor in the 65-year history of Cleveland television. A book signing for Ms. Esparra’s new inspirational book, “Heaven is All Around You,” will be featured prior to the Torch Run.
Church Street Ministries was founded 26-years ago in 1986 by the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Berea, and has become a well-known beacon of hope to those in need, providing food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance. CSM is a self-funded ministry managed by a board of directors and funded by the generosity of many churches, corporations, civic groups, school groups and private individuals as well as two thrift stores, Second Mile Thrift Shop and Second Mile Furniture Store.
Frannie Millward has been Church Street Ministries’ director of outreach since its inception and is celebrating her 64th year of helping Greater Cleveland families. She began her career in 1948 at the West Boulevard Christian Church and has never stepped away from the profession she loves.
The Torch Run’s pre-event reception will open with a meet and greet and book signing with Ms. Esparra from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Esparra’s book was inspired by the experience of talking to her two young nieces after her sister Memby’s death. Memby Esparra was a popular salsa singer who received national acclaim.
“Heaven is All Around You” has a wonderful, uplifting message for young children and their families who are dealing with the death of a parent. The book will be available for a special price of $12.95, and will benefit the Memby Memorial for Cancer Patients, a foundation established by Ms. Esparra to assist Cleveland and Youngstown area cancer patients with expenses.
Ms. Esparra is a Youngstown native and graduate of Ursuline High School and Ohio State University.
“I am really looking forward to helping Church Street Ministries with this event,” said Esparra. “I know they (CSM) do a lot of great things in the community.”
The Torch Run for Church Street Ministries will commence at 2:30 p.m. and will conclude with a closing celebration featuring a barbeque and awards ceremony for participants at 5:30 p.m. All participants will receive a T-shirt at the event’s finale.
For information about the "Torch Run" contact event coordinator Rev. Gary Halstead at the First Church of Berea, either by telephone at 440-234-2231, or by email at [email protected].
An opportunity to support the event is also available for those who are unable to attend or participate. A donation can be made by contacting Rev. Halstead by phone or email. The donation will be designated specifically for Church Street Ministries and the Torch Run.
Halstead explained the format for the Torch Run.
"The "Torch Run" will be a relay race format with runners passing off a stylized, but flameless torch each mile," said Halstead. "The course will begin at Wallace Lake, running north along the bike path 7.5 miles, turning and running south 10 miles, then turning again and going 2.5 miles, before ending at Wallace Lake."
The event has been heavily promoted in the Greater Cleveland area as well as the cities of Youngstown and Lorain. Much interest about the "Torch Run" has been expressed, and a large turnout is anticipated for the affair.
Halstead, who has coordinated similar events in the past, also spoke on the expectations of the inaugural event and is confident his goals are obtainable.
“First Church is hosting this event for Church Street Ministries to help them grow to the next level,” he said. “And with the "Torch Run" being an annual affair, we're hoping to grow Church Street Ministries and guarantee their success in the future.”