Runners take off at the starting line of the 2015 Panther 5K Run/Walk.

Runners take off at the starting line of the 2015 Panther 5K Run/Walk.

The seventh annual Panther 5K Run/Walk is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, at the South Florida State College Highlands Campus, Avon Park, as a fundraiser for SFSC Athletics. Sign-in begins at 7 a.m. in the Panther Gymnasium, and the race begins at 8 in front of the SFSC University Center.

Registration is $25 for adults; $20 for students; and $15 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 may participate in the race at no cost, providing a registration form is completed on their behalf. Well-behaved pets are also welcome. Online registration is available.

A free race shirt and goody bag will be reserved for each of the first 200 participants who registers and pays the admission fee before Feb. 18. Registration fees remain the same through race day; however, shirts are not guaranteed. Awards are presented to the first male and female who finish the race; to the top three male and female participants in each age category; and to the top male and female finalists in the masters and grand masters divisions.

The event offers an opportunity for serious runners to record times and set personal records and for casual walkers to receive the health benefits of physical activity while enjoying a morning stroll through SFSC’s scenic Highlands Campus. The 5K route begins in front of the SFSC University Center, progresses pass the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts, the Tower of Enlightenment mural, and along College Drive to Memorial Boulevard. The returning course follows College Drive to the SFSC Norman L. Stephens Jr. Health and Science Education Center and back through the center of the campus, ending at the SFSC University Center.

The Panther 5K Run/Walk is sponsored by the SFSC Foundation, Inc. Proceeds go to the SFSC Athletic Department, which fields four teams: men’s baseball, women’s cross country, women’s softball, and women’s volleyball. SFSC athletics provide an outlet for college pride and a means through which, each year, approximately 60 student athletes learn leadership skills, resilience, and the value of teamwork as they pursue their education at SFSC. “The growth that occurs within this process stays with them as they venture on in life,” said Rick Hitt, SFSC athletic director and head baseball coach. “We are greatly appreciative of the support we receive each year from the participants and our sponsors.”

On race day, two home games will be played at Panther Field, adjacent to the Highlands Campus, on race day. The Lady Panther Softball team will face Lincoln Land Community College at 2 p.m., and the Panther Baseball team will play Pasco-Hernando State College at 4.

If you have questions about the SFSC Panther 5K Run/Walk, call the SFSC Foundation at 863-453-3133.