Justin Lopes was captain of the soccer team his senior year of high school. He was a member of Honor Society, Key Club and Lafayette Baptist Church. Justin loved to play baseball and soccer. He was family-oriented and loyal to those he loved. In 2014, he died unexpectedly, at the age of 21. He was a rising senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in finance. In honor of Justin, the Derby Run was established. This year’s Derby Run takes place Saturday, May 18, starting at Terry Sanford High School. The 10K run will begin at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K run/walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. They are both timed events.
“David and Andrea Phillips started the Derby Run in 2016 and thought it would be a good way to remember and honor Justin’s life,” said Donna Lopes, Justin’s mom. “It has continued to grow each year. It started as a fun run the first year, and basically people got together and we walked.”
They have added a 10K run this year in hopes the event will continue to grow. The goal is to have between 200-300 runners.
“The proceeds from the event will go to local charities to benefit children,” said Lopes. “The charities are The Child Advocacy Center, the Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation, and Cy’s World Foundation.”
Each runner will receive a T-shirt and a sports bag filled with coupons from local vendors.
The top three overall male and female winners will receive trophies and gift certificates from Fleet Feet.
Awards will be given to the top three male and female winners in each age category, for best derby-themed costume, best derby-themed hat, best derby-themed stroller, first dog to finish, first stroller to finish and largest team.
Bunker, the mascot for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball team, will be on site, along with Kidsvile News! celebrity Truman the dragon and Sweet Frog’s mascot. There will be face-painting for the children.
“In the three years that we have done this run, we have been able to donate over $25,000 to charities that benefit children in Justin’s memory, because of our generous sponsors and Derby participants,” said Donna. “The Derby Run is a way for us to help others in his memory.”
The cost of the 5K for ages 12 and under is $20, and for ages 13 and over, it is $30. The cost of the 10K for all ages is $35. Teams with four or more participants for either race will receive a $5 discount for each runner. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash. Packets can be picked up Friday, May 17, at Orangetheory Fitness from 5-7 p.m.
Registration is at 7 a.m. for participants who did not preregister. For more information or to register, visit its-go-time.com/the-derby-run.