August 14, 2023
OAK BLUFFS – More than 225 runners and walkers of all ages turned out for the 35th annual Sullivan 5K Run/Walk Saturday, Aug. 5, at Washington Park in Oak Bluffs.
Hosted by Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and race founder Dr. Louis Sullivan, the activities began with a Diaper Derby for the youngest participants and a Kids Dash for various age groups.
Dr. Sullivan, the former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1989-1992, spoke to the crowd pre-race about founding the event on the Island to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Sullivan said he and his wife, Ginger, started walking in the early 70s for health reasons. When he went to Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s, he would invite employees in the Health and Human Services department to join him on his morning walks.
“It turned out to be very popular as this was a mechanism to get to know the employees in the department who ran the programs, who have the knowledge, whom I had to depend upon to be an effective Secretary,” said Dr. Sullivan. “I developed relationships within the department that were very genuine.”
That summer, he told some friends on the Vineyard about these walks in D.C. and was asked to organize a walk on the Island. That first walk in 1989 turned out to be bigger than expected and there weren’t enough T-shirts for participants. So, the 25 T-shirts went quickly, and more were ordered and mailed to participants by Dr. Sullivan after the fact.
The next year Martha’s Vineyard Hospital became involved, providing beverages, fruit, etc.
“We said, ‘Well, let’s see if we can make this an annual event’ and the result of it is this walk emphasizes health and fitness,” said Dr. Sullivan.
“The thing I’d say is this… the hospital is there for you if you are injured or ill but the hospital also emphasizes healthy lifestyles and this is part of it because we know that we can reduce healthcare costs, have a healthier population, if we could exercise regularly, eat properly, get vaccinations, medical checkups, the kinds of things that we have to do if you’re going to be healthy,” said Dr. Sullivan. “So, the hospital, in addition to being a healthcare facility, is a health-promoting organization.”
Denise Schepici, President of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, added, “We want you all to be safe and happy and that’s what our hospital is all about,” she said. “We’re here for you and thank you for being here for us.”
Proceeds from the event will be used for the hospital’s Housing for Healthcare initiative, which will make much-needed housing available to healthcare workers on the Island.
“What we’re doing for workforce housing to assure that we have a place that’s safe, a place that’s healthy, a place that can care for us is what we’re all focused on and for you to be here today means a great deal to all of us, so thank you for your commitment to the hospital, to this beautiful Island,” said Dr. Michael R. Jaff, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
“Without housing there is not going to be healthcare, it’s just that simple,” said Schepici.
Sullivan concluded the pre-race festivities by saying how proud he was that the annual event has raised more than $800,000 over the years to support Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
Sullivan 5K sponsors included:
CVS Health / Aetna
Knight + Zadeh Builders
Dr. Louis & Ginger Sullivan – Morehouse School of Medicine
Justin L. Wyner
Cronig’s Market & Healthy Additions
Bristol Myers Squibb
Kristi & Anthony Piland
Wanda McClain & Tony James
Fay & George Russell
Louise & Marston Clough
Edmond G. Coogan Law Office
Deborah Wells & Ted Jochsberger
Chapman Funerals and Cremations
Schofield, Barbini & Hoehn Inc.
The Cunniffe Family
Coca-Cola Bottling of New England
Monica & John Thompson III
CB Stark Jewelers
Vineyard Preservation Trust
Big Dipper, Carousel Ice Cream Factory
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital was well represented by both volunteers and participants at this fun community event.