CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It looks like clear skies this weekend for the inaugural McTrooper 5K Run-Walk to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Charleston.
The event will kick off Saturday morning at the Ronald McDonald house near Charleston Area Medical Center's Memorial Hospital in Kanawha City. The forecast calls for highs near 76 with mostly sunny skies.
The fundraiser also aims to promote the mission of providing a home away from home for the families of ailing children undergoing treatment at local hospitals.
Dewayne Dickens, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern West Virginia, said the organization approached State Police several months ago about teaming up to have a benefit.
"Whatever the event was, they were willing to be a part of it," Dickens said. "They've helped us in getting the word out and have stood shoulder to shoulder with us on this. It's great to see them come in and be able to do that."
It's an event the State Police are happy to be a part of, said Sgt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman.
"When you think of troopers or police officers you quickly think of the old saying 'To protect and serve,' and you know, a lot of times the protecting gets a lot of press coverage and people are more aware of that, but we shouldn't forget about the serving part," Baylous said. "This is a good way to serve the community we protect."
Dickens said the charitable organization is dependent on donations to maintain the large, 10-guestroom house and to meet the needs of the families depending on them. They also have a larger, long-term goal of building a larger house for families closer to CAMC Women and Children's Hospital on Charleston's West Side.
Between 300 and 350 families (that's between 1,100 and 1,200 people) come through the Ronald McDonald House's doors each year with unique needs, Dickens said.
Some families arrive without transportation, something the house will provide if needed. Some just need a quiet place to rest and regroup.
Several troopers went to the Charleston house last week to prepare a meal for the families and also to listen if the families needed to talk. The officers pulled aprons on over their uniforms and rolled up their sleeves to prepare lunch, Cincinnati-style chili and spaghetti, for the families, Dickens said.
"The interaction between them and our houseguests was just great," Dickens said. "It was someone else for our guests to talk to and, of course, the troopers wanted to hear about their children and their families."
It wasn't the first time the officers had stopped in at the house to prepare a meal or visit. While guests can prepare their own meals in the house's large kitchen, it also is open to church groups, businesses or other organizations that want to prepare group meals.
Baylous said he hoped the event would help the Ronald McDonald House toward its goal of building a bigger, nicer temporary home for the families in need. A number of troopers also will be participating in the event.
"It's one less thing for them to worry about while their child is receiving medical attention," he said.
Rebecca King, the sister of fallen Trooper Eric Workman, also has joined in the fundraising efforts. Workman, who was fatally shot with Cpl. Marshall Bailey during an August 2012 traffic stop, was active in community service, Baylous said.
"Rebecca wanted to honor her brother and bring awareness to the mission of the Ronald McDonald House by wearing Trooper Workman's badge number," he said.
Participants still can pre-register at www.mctrooperrun.com or register on race day. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Ronald McDonald House. The event kicks off at 9 a.m. Registration is $30 and includes a long-sleeved t-shirt.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.