Each year after completing the Mountain Empire Older Citizens Walkathon, the women who make up Sal’s Pals have a custom.
After putting in their steps at the walk, held at Bullitt Park in Big Stone Gap, the ladies make a trip to the community Dairy Queen for ice cream as a celebration of sorts. This year, that tradition won’t happen exactly as in the past since the Walkathon is virtual. However, that isn’t stopping Sal’s Pals from fulfilling their longtime commitment to raising money for the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly.
The ladies will still collect donations for the fund and complete their own 5k walk at Leeman Field Park in Lee County.
Sally Sexton, the “Sal” in Sal’s Pals, said the group has participated in the MEOC Walkathon for 10 years. The event is the fuel fund’s largest annual fundraiser. Some years, Sal’s Pals raised as much as $1,500.
Sal’s Pals, formed 17 years ago, meets weekly at First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Jonesville. What began as an exercise group has expanded to much more. “We started out as an exercise class, then we started helping wherever there is a need. Now my whole class comes up with projects for us to help. They are some of the best Christian women I have ever met,” said Sexton. The women begin each weekly session with a devotional and prayer.
Sal’s Pals support a long list of local projects and causes. The Emergency Fuel Fund is among those. A program of MEOC, the fuel fund helps those at least age 60 in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton pay for wood, coal, propane, heating oil or electric bills. A recipient’s income must be at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
“We love participating in this charity,” said Sexton. “We just think it’s a really worthwhile cause. It is one of our favorites because we know who the money helps and that 100 percent of the money goes to those in need.”
Sexton works at Lee County Social Services and knows firsthand about the great need for the fuel fund. “If we don’t help the most vulnerable in our communities, who will?” noted Sexton.
Other group members include: Linda Gibson, Nancy Garrett, Sherry Moore, Susan Barber, Karen Cridlin, Melanie Jorgensen, Trish Blakley, Jill Graham, Mary Fortner, Amy Willis, Abbie Moore, Mary Ellis, Annette Tomlinson and Alena Satterfield.
If you’re interested in helping the Emergency Fuel Fund yourself, it’s easy to do.
To participate in the virtual walk, simply complete a 5k walk before Sept. 30 at whatever time and location works best for you. You may share pictures, videos and comments on social media using the hashtag #MEOCWalkathon2020 to show your support. The key to a successful Walkathon is for each walker to reach out to friends, family and coworkers for sponsorship.
Individuals who raise $100 or more will receive a Walkathon t-shirt.
Contact MEOC at 276-523-4202 for pledge forms or download them here.
If you are unable to walk, but still want to support the cause, make an online donation here or mail your contribution to MEOC, P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219.