“We were fueled by faith and just did it really as a grassroots effort to try and get people there and spread the word,” she said.
Then three weeks before last year’s inaugural race, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson made the announcement about the change to the missionary age requirements. Thousands more young men and women were suddenly eligible to serve Mormon missions, and additional funding would be needed to support all of them.
“It was just so neat,” Parks said.
Parks recalled reading the January 2011 Ensign magazine to her children. One of the articles mentioned a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who worked selling bananas for four years to raise the $250 required to buy a passport so he could serve a mission.
“We donate it straight to the LDS missionary fund, and they can distribute it however they need or feel is appropriate," Parks said.
Parks said she is grateful to have been able to contribute her time and talents in organizing the race, even when things were “crazy” after her husband lost his job and she had to balance being a full-time student, a full-time race director and full-time mom of five kids under the age of 13.
“Everyone thinks it is wealthy people who make donations," Parks wrote in an email. "But it is ‘saints’ ... people who understand the vision and help how they can. I am grateful to help how I can, too. This has provided a way for me to give of my time and talents where I couldn’t give monetarily at the time."
Parks said she plans to make the race an annual event. The 2014 race is scheduled for Sept. 27.
For more information, visit www.saintsandsinnershalf.com.
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