MURRAY — The Murray Half Marathon has a new title sponsor.
David Taylor Chrysler Dodge, Jeep, Fiat of Murray was unveiled Friday as the possessor of that role in a news conference at the dealership. The event, which will be run for the ninth time on Oct. 26, will benefit the Enduring Hope Campaign that Murray-Calloway County Hospital is leading in the quest of establishing the new MCCH Regional Cancer Center.
Taylor said this role is personal for him and his team.
“One of our team members is currently undergoing chemo treatment for cancer for the second time in a year,” he said. “We are beyond excited to not only be a partner in this event, but to raise awareness of the need and the importance of a facility like this in our community. The cost of constructing the new cancer treatment center is estimated at $12 million and the goal of the Enduring Hope Campaign is to raise $6 million of those dollars. This is the largest philanthropic effort in the history of Murray-Calloway County Hospital.”
The Murray race will join with another half marathon being debuted in nearby Hopkinsville about a month earlier. Athletes who opt to participate in both events will receive a discounted entry fee.
In addition, the Murray event will feature an expo the day before the race that will be hosted at David Taylor Chrysler, intersection of North 12th and North Fourth streets. Several sponsors will be present to market services and products to the runners and their families.
MCCH Chief Philanthropic Officer Keith Travis said Friday that a spaghetti dinner that will be offered to all athletes participating the next day and will be handled by Mugsy’s.
“When we were approached about the possibility of sponsoring, we presented it to some of our staff and they were very excited about the possibilities this event creates for our hospital, our community and our dealership,” Taylor said. “The existing cancer center has been serving this area since 1990 and has served thousands that have received treatment for cancer without having to travel. It’s been a blessing to many and now is the time to make it even better.”
Hospital CEO Jerry Penner said the David Taylor name having such a strong place with this project provides an immediate impact.
“I think it is very obvious that anything that the David Taylor family puts its name behind is going to be a success. They’ve proven that time after time,” Penner said. “So to get them behind us and to add that synergy to our product to get us to where we need to go is very important.
“But we’re not talking about a race today; this is about a partnership that is going to bring world-class cancer care to the people of this community. It’s not that we haven’t been doing that in the past, but we’re going to make it even better and it starts with the right facility. We’ve got the right providers, but having the right equipment and the right facility is going to make it all better for our future in keeping it right here.”
Penner said he talked to both Taylor and Enduring Hope Campaign Chair Donna Herndon before Friday’s event and both had strong opinions as to the value of enhancing the existing center in Murray.
“I was having a discussion with David and he said he knows how important it must be to keep that local. He said, ‘I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to travel to Paducah or Nashville for your chemo(therapy) or radiation treatments with the costs and travel involved,’ and he’s right,” Penner said. “Then Donna chimed in and she said, ‘Hey, some people still need to work and it’s very difficult when they have got to be away from their job three hours or more. It would be very hard to maintain a job.’
“They need that extra insurance, so there’s so many different reasons why we want to keep this care local, so I appreciate that we’ve got a benefactor that’s going to fall behind this project and I hope there are others in the community who will do the same thing and think, ‘Hey, this is a wonderful project.
“Like it or not, this disease is going to touch somebody in your family at some point in time and probably already has, so what a great cause to fall in behind and say, ‘We’re going to support this for our community.’”
In addition, Taylor said his dealership has set a goal to raise $150,000 for the campaign.