PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — East Lake Fire Rescue’s biggest fundraiser is their annual 5K, but this year it’s a little different, not just because of the pandemic, but because they are sharing the spotlight and donations with a fellow member of the community.
Craig Metzger has been teaching taekwondo to children in the East Lake community for the past 17 years.
“This is an amazing community and the parents and families are absolutely incredible,” said Metzger.
As part of their training to receive the various belts, Metzger has been requiring students to run East Lake Fire Rescue’s annual 5k, which supports various charities in the area.
“Craig and his kids have always been a big part of this race, because of that our youth numbers, our youth involvement, has been huge,” said Fire Chief Tom Jamison.
However his year Metzger will be watching from the sidelines, unable to run himself. He is battling stage four cancer.
“It’s one of those moments in your life when you are really taken back by things that you kind of take for granted, and that was definitely that kind of moment for me,” said Metzger.
So East Lake Fire Rescue decided to hold this year’s 5K in Metzger’s honor, with part of the proceeds going back into his taekwondo School.
“We wanted to be able to recognize him and give back to him in the way he’s given to us and ultimately the community,” said Jamison.
“It was overwhelming for me, it was really emotional and I’m really excited,” said Metzger.
Due to the pandemic, the 5K will be held virtually. People can choose to run or walk anytime between October 24 to November 21. Taekwondo families say, after years of learning how to fight from Craig, they can’t wait to fight for him.
“We call him the kid whisperer, he’s helped us raise all three kids with some discipline and helped them be better kids all the way around,” said parent Joseph Arceese.
The local restaurant, East Lake Varsity Club, even joined in on the fundraising. They are holding a raffle this Saturday at their restaurant to support their favorite instructor.
“When one thing happens to one of us it happens to all of us and we all chip in and work together,” said Drew Bartenope of East Lake Varsity Club.
“It takes kind of my focus and my mindset off of what’s going on mentally and puts it in a positive direction in the good things I have in my life and all the good things I should be thankful for,” said Metzger.
For more information on the 5K, go to www.elfr.org.