David Phillips and Ricky Lopes have been friends for years. So, when Ricky’s 21-year-old son, Justin, died unexpectedly the in the summer of 2104, Phillips wanted to do something to honor Justin. The youngest of three, Justin loved cooking with his mom and was enrolled at the University of South Carolina. He planned to pursue a career in accounting. Andrea Phillips, David’s wife described his family as close-knit. “Justin’s death came out of nowhere and was unexpected,” said Andrea. “He was very involved in the community. He played soccer and baseball. He was in the key club and the National Honor Society. His family attends Lafayette Baptist Church, and he was very involved there as well.”
As a fellow athlete, David, a runner, spent some time talking with his wife, Andrea, about what they could do to make a difference. The result was the Derby Run 5k. This year marks the second annual Derby Run. It takes place May 20 at Terry Sanford High School, Justin’s alma mater.
“Our family has always been very close. We loved Justin so much and continue to miss him everyday. We are incredibly grateful that friends and family are coming together to raise money to benefit children within the community in his memory. Justin loved sports and loved to compete, so the Derby Run is an event we feel certain he would enjoy, ” said the Lopes Family (Donna and Ricky Lopes, Rebecca Lopes Aul and Emily Lopes Townsend).
The course runs through scenic Haymount, including the Fayetteville Technical Community College campus, and finishes at Terry Sanford High School. “It’s easy, fun and flat!” said Andrea. “The entire event is a lot of fun. It is a party feeling. Last year we had a lot of friends of the family participate. There was a lot of reminiscing and hugging. We had about 200 runners. We would be thrilled if we had 300 this year.”
She added that there will be a local radio station at Terry Sanford, and attendees are invited to wear their best Derby hat and/or costume. There will be prizes for various categories. Each runner will receive a commemorative T-shirt and a bag. T-shirts are also available for purchase. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
In celebrating Justin’s life, it made sense to turn the run into something that would help others. Last year, the Derby Run benefited St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This year, the family decided to keep it local and is giving the proceeds from the race to the Child Advocacy Center in Fayetteville, Cy’s World Foundation, and the Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation. Andrea added that they are also accepting gently worn athletic shoes for Water Step, a charitable organization for healthy drinking water in needed areas of the world.
The child Advocacy Center works with partners in the community, including law enforcement and medical practitioners to offer children a safe place that supports the prevention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse. CAC not only offers a safe place to interview children, it also offers prevention education for parents, professionals and agencies in our community. During FY 2016, our center served 773 children and their families and, by our coordinating efforts, saved the community more than $500,000.
Founded in 201 in honor of Edgar Clyde Garber IV, who died at the age of 17, Cy’s World Foundation seeks to promote a love of the outdoors. The goal of the organization is to offer grants that focus on teaching, introducing, and compelling youth to enjoy outdoors safely, with conservation of natural resources and sustainable practices to insure these activities are here for others to enjoy for many generations. Cy’s World has partnered with YMCA’s Camp thunderbird, Cumberland County’s Ducks Unlimited, Hunter’s Helping Kids and First Tee of the Triad, Winston-Salem on various events aimed at getting kids up and moving.
The Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation supports Cumberland County high school students who will attend the University of South Carolina.
Water Step is a nonprofit organization that provides safe water to communities in developing countries. Based on simple tools and effective training, organization trains people how to use safe water solutions: water purification, health education and well repair, empowering communities to take care of their own water needs for years.
To register for the Derby Run, go to active.com and type Derby Run into the search bar. Registration is $25. Late registration opens at 7 a.m. at Terry Sanford on May 20. The race starts at 8 a.m. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1651810641752739.