The Music Behind the Marathon

December 12th, 2013 | By Gary No Comments


Most everyone has heard of the Athens Half Marathon.  Now in its fourth year, AthHalf, as it is known, has become a major sporting event that draws thousands of people to our community.  This year, 3,200 runners signed up to run the 13.6-mile course that weaved through Athens streets, neighborhoods, parks, UGA and even Sanford Stadium.  More than 250 volunteers helped with everything from registration and setup to monitoring the course and coordinating water stations.  There were even local bands and musical acts set up at every mile marker to cheer on the runners in a uniquely Athens way.

What you may not realize is that AthHalf is also a very successful fundraising event for a local nonprofit called AthFest Educates.  The organization was started 18 years ago as part of AthFest, which is the annual festival that promotes local music and art.  Their mission statement is “AthFest Educates inspires, engages, and educates the youth and adults of Athens in music and arts by providing sustained funding for programs and initiatives through events that showcase the community’s talent.”  This year, the AthHalf race raised more than $90,000 for AthFest Educates.

The money raised from AthHalf will be used to support several programs of AthFest Educates, including lunchtime musical performances in local schools.  These performances by local artists expose students to different genres of music and inspire a love of the arts.  Another program that benefits is a partnership with The UGA String Project and the Boys and Girls Club, in which UGA music education students provide free lessons at the Boys and Girls Club facilities on various string instruments (and the instruments are donated by AthFest Educates as well).  Mini Grants of $250 – $1000 are also made available to local schools for instrument purchase or repair, lessons, field trips, assistance bringing musical or theatrical performances to local schools, art projects, scholarships, and more.

AthFest Educates has donated several hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of instruments over the past several years.  What a great way to bring sports and music together to make a positive impact on our community!  To find out how you can get involved and support AthFest Educates or the AthHalf, go to

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