The annual Fuzz Run is one of the top 5K races in the state. Wrapping up its 29th year, it is also one of the longest-running annual races in the state, with funds going to the Police Who Care fund. Now a popular race for thousands of runners, the Covington Police Department is making enough on the race to focus on really helping those who need it.
The race was almost canceled in the 90s, when it was costing more to host it than it was bringing in, with only about 63 runners showing up each year. According to CPD Chief Stacey Cotton, it wasn't until the last couple of years that the Fuzz Run really started to generate income, raising $34,415 this year.
But what happens with the money?
Police Who Care Fund
The Police Who Care fund and the Fuzz Run are two different entities. The Fuzz Run is the main fundraising event for the fund.
Originally started to help raise money to help local needy families with Christmas, CPD employees were urged to have money taken automatically taken from their paychecks to go into the fund. According to Cotton, the deduction of funds still occurs, but the Christmas giving has changed. Since the Rotary Club helps needy families during the holidays, monies from the fund are given to the Rotarians every year to assist.
The fund became the beneficiary of the funds raised by the Fuzz Run in 1994. At that time, there was just $800 in the fund. There is now $111,484.49.
The fund also regularly supports the Newton County Special Olympics, Project ReNeWal, Newton County Minister's Union Feed the Hungry project, Safe Covington Halloween Night, the Covington Y Partner with Youth, Junior Statesman, Eastside High School Cheerleading, Washington Street Community Center, Newton County Theme School, Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk.
But it doesn't stop there. The fund has also helped families in the community. In the last two years, roughly $2,100 has been given (between seven families) of Georgia police officers who were killed or died in the line of duty, two CPD officers have been given assistance in funeral costs associated with the loss of children. Officers have also been assisted in costs of medical bills and travel for sick children being treated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, with travel expenses to attend the funeral of close out-of-state relatives, and in the late 90s, the fund was able to help a local family fly to New York to get treatment for their child who was suffering from a rare cancer.
Cotton said that for years the Fuzz Run raised only about $1,500 a year and it costs around $30,000 to make the race happen (with the majority of it going to the popular T-shirts).
As the popularity of running and of the Fuzz Run in particular increased, so did the amount raised every year.
The funds are monitored by a board, comprised of employees and officers of a variety of ranks from the CPD, and two citizens. Anything spent requiring more than $500 has to be approved by the board.
Cotton said that since they are not used to having this much in the fund, there are talks about what to do with the money, such as donating a large chunk of it to various charities and organizations, keeping a balance of about $50,000 in the account to pay for next year's run and to be available in case it's needed by officers.
"I'm tickled that we have that kind of money available to help," said Cotton. "I'm very proud with what we've been able to accomplish and do. It's a testament to the men and women in this office who truly care about this community."