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SHAMOKIN - The streets of Shamokin resembled an episode of the award-winning AMC television show "The Walking Dead" Saturday afternoon when "zombies" chased after runners for a good cause.
The second annual Zombie Run sponsored by Coal City Revitalization Inc. attracted 27 runners and approximately 35 zombies; the event raised $620.
Proceeds will be donated to the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), Shamokin 150th Anniversary Committee and the "Van for Matt" campaign that is raising funds to purchase a van for 16-year-old Matthew
Sessions of Shamokin who suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.
Beginning at 1 p.m. in the municipal parking lot on East Independence Street, the zombies, both adults and children, chased the runners over a 2.7-mile trek through the city in an attempt to grab their flags.
A team of makeup artists consisting of Jenna Wasakoski, Megan Fetterman, Ashley Duttinger and Kaitlyn Milo transformed ordinary- looking people into flesh-eating corpses. Some of the zombies came equipped with their own grissly attire and accessories, including a chain saw.
The goal of the runners, who each paid a $20 registration fee, was to avoid being "tagged" by a zombie and being declared a "victim" before continuing with the sprint. Victims who were caught provided their bib numbers to differentiate the victims from the survivors.
AREA Services Ambulance personnel set off a siren that signaled the official start of the run.
Participants traveled west on Independence Street to Market, south on Market to Arch, west on Arch to Third, south on Third to Mulberry, east on Mulberry to Diamond, north on Diamond to High, east on High to Grant, north on Grant to Lincoln, west on Lincoln to Market, north on Market to Independence, and back to the lot.
"We had more zombies this year, but there were fewer runners," stated Matt Losiewicz, president of Coal City Revitalization, a local non-profit organization that has raised approximately $5,000 for various causes during the past two years. "We also had 56 students at Shamokin Area High School assist us to earn hours toward their senior projects. It was a beautiful day and we really appreciate everyone who participated or worked at the community- oriented event."
He added, "The Zombie Run gives people something to do and also allows us to give something back to the community. There are no winners here, only victims and survivors."
Matt Wynn, 25, and his 15-year-old brother, Isaac, of Elysburg, were the first two runners to cross the finish line in 18 minutes, 10 seconds.
The siblings, who compete in various races throughout the year, said they heard about the event earlier in the week and wanted to participate to get exercise and help raise money for the group.
"It's great to help out the community by doing what we love to do (run)," said Isaac Wynn.
"This was phenomenal," commented Kim Ulrich, 23, of Coal Township, another first-year participant. "There were kids hiding under cars, popping out and chasing you down the street and they even had a guy with a chain saw. I absolutely will come back next because I really enjoyed it."
Ronald McElwee, treasurer of Coal City Revitalization and a member of Shamokin Area School Board, said, "We came up with this idea and the other events we sponsor to restore pride in the community It's nice to see when people come together for worthy causes. There used to be a lot more community events when Shamokin was in its heyday, and we're trying to get more people to come out and support our fund-raising efforts."
In addition to Losiewicz and McElwee, other committee members include vice president Jim Moore, secretary Eric Scicchitano, Joshua Bressi and Scott Fabrizio.
Vendors included Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services, Joshua V. Bressi Photography, Sweet Granny's Kettle Corn and More and Ye Olde Primitive Tarts & More.
FC Sounds donated its time providing musical entertainment.
Besides the annual Zombie Run, Coal City Revitalization will sponsor "Cookies with Santa" on Dec. 21 at Shamokin-Coal Township Public Library and an adult prom in April at Brady Fire Company that will have a "Night at Hollywood" theme.
McElwee said Coal City Revitalization also is working on completing a project involving a large mural depicting a landmark that will be displayed at Irish Isle Provision Company on West Arch Street in Coal Township in the next couple months.
The group also sponsored the Coal City Classic Golf Tournament on Sept. 27 at Knoebels Three Ponds Golf Course in Elysburg and held a Grave Robbers Run last fall.
Losiewicz and McElwee expressed appreciation to CSP Office Equipment in Shamokin and for the cooperation of Shamokin City Council for covering Coal City Revitalization Inc. under its insurance policy and granting use of the city municipal parking lot.
Losiewicz commended city police and fire police for traffic control and AREA Services Ambulance personnel and Cub Scout Pack 3254 of St. John's United Church of Christ on Eighth Street for their assistance.
McElwee said the organization is seeking more volunteers and sponsors. Anyone interested in joining the group can find it on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org