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story.lead_photo.caption Matt Brumley, director of the Saline Memorial Health Foundation, said a portion of the funds raised by the annual The Beat Goes On 5K will go to purchase educational tools for the Saline County community. - Photo by Sam Pierce

— The 10th annual The Beat Goes On 5K will take place Feb. 24, beginning and ending at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton.

“Every year, we continue to grow, which is exciting,” said Matt Brumley, director of the Saline Memorial Health Foundation. “The cause for the 5K, the reason we have it in February, is because it is heart month.

“We continue to fight heart disease and cardiovascular disease within the community.”

The race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. The cost for the race is $20 per person if preregistered, $25 on race day and $15 for children 12 and younger. The fee includes a long-sleeve T-shirt. There is also an opportunity for “virtual runners” for those who don’t want to run or walk.

“We are hoping that over 1,000 people will be entered this year because this benefits our community,” Brumley said.

He said the race does allow teams this year, and the team with the largest number of participants will receive a prize. The race does not offer group discounts, however.

For more information or to volunteer on the day of the race, call (501) 776-6746.

Tom Baxley, co-owner and managing broker of Baxley-Penfield-Moudy Realtors, has competed in the race every year. He said one of the reasons for that is the cause the race supports.

“It benefits a good local organization,” he said, “and you get to see and be around a lot of people in the local community.

“All of those things together are the reason I enjoy doing this.”

Baxley, who has been running for the past 12 years, said The Beat Goes On 5K is always on his list for having to run.

“In the past, I have served on the Health Foundation Board, so supporting the hospital is near and dear to me,” Baxley said. “Being raised in this area, the hospital has been an important part of my life.

“I certainly enjoy doing this. It is obviously well put together and has a huge participation for this area.”

Baxley said he began running after the encouragement he received from his oldest son, Bo.

“He had begun running in high school with the Benton High School cross-country team,” Baxley said. “He was wanting to go to the area 5Ks, and I found myself taking him.

“Next thing I knew, through his encouragement, I started to run those myself. Once I did, I was hooked.”

He said his other son, Jesse, also runs from time to time.

Brumley said that this year and last year, a portion of the net proceeds from the race goes toward the construction of the wellness park at the hospital.

“Ultimately, we hope to have our wellness park with a 1-mile track that goes around the campus and hooks into other sidewalks and walking trails throughout the city of Benton and the county,” Brumley said. “Again, it’s a way for our patients, our employees, their families and people in the community to get out and get active.

“We certainly feel that [the park] enhances visibility and accessibility to health care.”

The race has also raised funds to get educational tools out into the community.

“We have provided every school district in Saline County with materials, mannequins and training equipment to educate their students on how to perform CPR,” Brumley said.

“Something new that we are doing is offering to come out to your business or group and give an educational talk on how to be prepared when faced with an emergency.”

Brumley said it isn’t a certification, but strictly an education on what to do in those situations. He said foundation representatives have also gone to businesses in the area to perform free screenings.

“We have begun to go to our larger employers in the county and perform wellness checks in the workplace with cardiac-risk assessments,” Brumley said.

“Our main goal is, we want thousands of people within Saline County to know that if they are faced with an emergency, we are a community that is safer because there are more people who know how to respond to that emergency when faced with it,” he said.

Last year, 1,000 racers were registered, with 750 actually coming out, Brumley said.

“I want to break 800 for people coming out, and I’m hoping we have at least 1,100 register,” Brumley said. “A good steady climb is good for us.”

Brumley said people continue to participate in the race because of the importance of the event.

“People have a choice on how they spend their Saturday, and they choose to come out and spend it with their friends and family,” Brumley said. “They see what is important to you, and it may become important to them.”

Brumley said one thing that is consistent every year is the fact that someone will come up and say, “I didn’t realize the importance of what I am supporting until it happened to ‘blank.’”

“And it may be a loved one, themselves or a friend,” he said. “Every single year, there have been a number of people who have come up and said that if it weren’t for the care they had received here in our community, they may not be with us anymore.

“It is an easy way to show that support.”

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or

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