By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Renasant Bank has become one of two major supporters of the annual Gum Tree Run.
“We are really excited to have Renasant Bank come on board with AT&T,” said Andy Hughes, race director of the Gum Tree 10K and 2K fun run.
The largest 10K in the state is in its 36th season. This year’s race is May 11.
“It was a no-brainer when Andy approached us about the sponsorship,” said John Oxford, Renasant’s director of external affairs.
Hughes said the $20,000 to $25,000 raised in sponsorship is crucial to offsetting race costs.
Proceeds from the race are donated to Habitat for Humanity in Tupelo.
“This is our largest fundraiser of the year,” said Habitat director Donna Jarrell. She said in addition to raising money, the event also raises awareness about the organization.
Habitat in Tupelo builds six to eight homes a year at a cost of about $30,000 per house. Hughes said his goal this year is to raise $15,000.
“We’d like to raise half a house,” he said.
Hughes said the Gum Tree race has been raising money for Habitat for the past eight years and has donated more than $40,000.
Jarrell said she was approached by the running club and is thrilled with the support.
Habitat provides more than 100 volunteers to help manage race day logistics.
The race draws 1,000 to 1,200 runners from around the country. Hughes said he hopes to reach 1,500 runners this year, which would be a record for the event.
The race begins and ends in downtown Tupelo during the annual Gumtree Festival. The festival is a Mother’s Day weekend tradition in Tupelo and will take place May 10-12 this year.