MOUNT VERNON - The second annual Rastin Challenge will be held on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Ariel-Foundation Park, and will showcase teams of first responders (firefighters and law enforcement) in a variety of competitive physical challenges. The public is encouraged to support first responders by coming out to watch, cheer them on and enjoy informational displays. Children's activities will also be available.
The event is hosted by Foundation Park Conservancy, Mount Vernon Police Department and Mount Vernon Fire Department. A short opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. in the Schnormeier Event Center. The challenges include the Rastin Challenge Stair Climb, Firefighter Combat Challenge, Tactical Obstacle Course and Police Bike Challenge (provided there are enough registrants). Free breakfast is available for first responders. Lunch will be available for purchase.
Winning teams' departments receive prizes of $500, $250 and $100, in addition to the more than $2,000 worth of door prizes for individual first responders. Proceeds from the Rastin Challenge go to a scholarship fund for current Knox County first responders (fire/law enforcement) seeking advanced training or college credit.
2016 Rastin Challenge file photo - Photo used with permission from Bostic Imagery
This event has grown in support and participants compared to last year's inaugural event. According to MVFD Chief Chad Christopher, a team of firefighters is coming from Florida. Carrie Haver, executive director for the park, believes "This is an amazing opportunity for everyone, especially children, to see some of central Ohio's finest first responders demonstrate their skills. We'd love to have a big crowd there to watch and cheer them on."
A variety of health/safety displays will also be exhibited throughout the event, including an AirEvac helicopter and a variety of military vehicles. Youth can participate in a series of physical challenges, coordinated by Mount Vernon's YMCA: softball throw (with a weighted ball), broad jump, push-ups (as many in one minute), terrace run, bear crawl, sack race, spoon/egg walk and hula hoop. A fire truck sprinkler will also be available for children.
The Rastin Challenge was developed as the brainchild of local resident and park supporter Tom Rastin as a way to honor our first responders. Scheduled in late summer, the event is intended to also honor the memory of the firefighters who climbed the steps of the World Trade Center. The Rastin Challenge Stair Climb event consists of four firefighters climbing the tower in full turnout gear, relay-style. "This event has a powerful symbolism. The combined total of the four climbs roughly equals the height the 9/11 firefighters reached before tragedy struck," noted Melanie Bolender, Foundation Park Conservancy board member and Rastin Challenge volunteer.
The park will also host a free concert that evening with "Motown: The Sounds of Touch" at 7:30 p.m. in the Schnormeier Event Center.