Jeff State hosts 10th annual Judy M. Merritt 5K

Published 2:48 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor 

HOOVER – A wave of participants sprinted forward for fun and charity during the 10th annual Judy M. Merritt 5K & Family Fun Day in Hoover.

Jefferson State Community College held the 10th edition of its annual Judy M. Merritt Memorial 5K on Saturday, March 16 at Hoover’s Veterans Park.

“I can’t believe it was 10 years ago (that we started this) as a way to pay tribute and honor Judy Merritt,” said Keith Brown, president of Jefferson State Community College.

The annual 5K is held each year in honor of Merritt who served as president of the college for 35 years and set a historical precedent by being the first female president of an Alabama college.

“I can’t imagine 35 (years as president), what an unbelievable legacy,” Brown said. “She retired in 2014 and 10 years later, I still get questions about Judy, comments about Judy and the impact that she made on the college, and more importantly, the community.”

Proceeds from the event went toward Thomas E. and Judy M. Merritt Scholarship which honors outstanding students at Jeff State. Recipients of the scholarship are selected based on various criteria, including service, high moral character, leadership ability and more.

“(Judy) was an incredible lady that had a tremendous impact on the education community and on Hoover itself,” Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato said. “This was a great vision that she had to build a campus out here at Spain Park, and it’s been an integral part of our city now for many, many years.”

Alongside the chance to run in the 5K, attendees also received swag bags and T-shirts along with the awarding of medals for winners. Participants were able to run, walk or take advantage of a “sleep in” option.

“We love having this race out here,” Brocato said. “It showcases our city, it showcases this fantastic park and we want to continue to partner with (Jeff State) in so many different ways to educate, not only young people coming out of high school, but even adults that are looking for a change in career, a change in life.”

Afterward, there were a variety of activities for families to enjoy at the park, including inflatables and face painting as well free popcorn, cotton candy and a variety of on-site vendors such as Chick-fil-A, Baba Java Coffee and Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

“She (Judy) would love the community being out here and supporting this event and just being connected to one another,” Brown said.