Inaugural Arlington Bunny Hop 5K raises over $20K for area homeless

 Bridges to Independence celebrates the inaugural Arlington Bunny Hop 5K Charity Fun Run/Walk at Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, Va., Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University) 

Bridges to Independence celebrates the inaugural Arlington Bunny Hop 5K Charity Fun Run/Walk at Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, Va., Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University) 

ARLINGTON, Va. — From start to finish, organizers agree the inaugural Arlington Bunny Hop 5K Charity Fun Run/Walk was a success.

The family- and dog-friendly event benefits Bridges to independence, a local nonprofit that guides the homeless toward a brighter future, by providing housing and employment assistance.

“Whatever is raised today will make a big difference in the families that we serve,” said Bridges to Independence director of development Jeanette Norton. “We served 507 individuals last year, with a budget of less than $2 million and a staff of just 10. So, we’re pretty small but mighty. We’re able to do a lot with very little.”

Norton is especially optimistic about how area children will benefit from the funds raised through the Bunny Hop. 

“Sixty percent of those we serve are under the age of 18. In fact, 53 percent are age 5 and younger,” she said. “I think the thing that makes us unique is our focus on kids. 

“We believe that if we’re going to truly end homelessness here in Arlington, we need to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.”

Race director Denny Edelbrock says Saturday’s Bunny Hop more than doubled its fundraising goal, raking in over $20,000. 

“It’s all about spirit. It’s all about charity and doing things together we cannot do individually,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have a lot more in common than we do to separate us. And that’s what we want. We want events like that; hopefully that’s what we are.”

The race is an outreach project of Clarendon United Methodist Church, located just blocks away from Bridges to Independence. 

Bunny Hop participants trekked 3.1 miles through the Ashton Heights Historic District, which includes Columbia Gardens Cemetery

“(It’s) wonderful to see so many people out supporting our cause today,” Norton said. “We’re really helping today’s struggling kids to be tomorrow’s successful adults. And to let them know that because they’re homeless today does not mean that they need to become homeless the future.”

If you missed the first Arlington Bunny Hop 5K, not to worry. Organizers area already looking at possible dates for next year.

Lindsey Leake