By Debbie Adams
The weather was once again nearly perfect for Vinton’s second annual “Four on the 4th” race
benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. The four-miler is sponsored by
American National Bank and Fleet Feet.
This year marked the 12th annual Four on the 4th , but only the second time it was run in the Town
of Vinton. For many years, Roanoke City was the site of the event.
The Four on the 4th race actually consists of two back-to-back races – the regular four-mile race
at 8 a.m. followed by a Kids Fun Run at 9 a.m. Both start at the High Ground Monument at the
Vinton War Memorial.
The “Four on the 4th ” race is one of the main fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA.
The organization relies on the financial support from this race to provide summer camps and
after-school programs for disadvantaged youth in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem City,
Franklin County, Montgomery County, and Vinton. One of their after-school programs is housed
at Vinton Baptist Church and serves students from Herman L. Horn and W. E. Cundiff
Nearly 500 participants turned out for this year’s event. Many were dressed patriotically in red,
white, and blue in honor of the occasion. It was a family-friendly event with many children, and
quite a few in strollers.
Emily Pinkerton, Director of Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA, opened the
race by thanking the Town of Vinton for being incredible partners in welcoming “Four on the 4th ”, especially Vinton’s Community Programs Director Chasity Barbour, along with the Vinton
Public Works and Police Departments for their efforts to make things go smoothly.
She also expressed her appreciation to Fleet Feet and owner Matt Thompson and the Boys and
Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia for being faithful event partners. She thanked the many other
sponsors who support the Boys and Girls Clubs, helping them to “keep the doors open,” the
volunteers who assist with the race, and the vendors.
Mayor Brad Grose welcomed race participants. He thanked Fleet Feet for honoring the town by
selecting Vinton as the site of the race once again. He was followed by Samaryia Napper, a staff
member at the Boys and Girls Club at Vinton Baptist singing the national anthem. Then the
runners were off, down Washington Avenue, Maple, Lee, and Walnut, all the way to Fallon Park
Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond and Officer Brandon Hill led off the race.
As for race results, David Angell of Blue Ridge came in first place again in 2023 with a time of
20:25.7, even faster than in 2022. The first female runner to finish was Frances Lash of Rocky
Mount with a time of 24:58.3.
William Byrd High School was represented by DeShawn Austin (time, 26:17.5) and Shawn
Gower (26:17.4). Austin runs cross country and competes on the track team. Gower runs cross
country. Madeleine Wolters-Argenio, a recent Byrd graduate in the Class of 2023 who will be
continuing her collegiate sports career in soccer at Utica University, ran the course in 40:31.2.
Travis and Whitney Russell, pastors at Vinton Baptist, where one of the Boys and Girls Clubs
operate, and their sons participated in the race again in 2023.
Racers received medals, cheers, congratulations, bottles of water, and wet towels as they crossed
the finish line; overall winners and age-group winners received prizes at a celebration after the
races were complete.
Sponsors of this year’s “Four on the 4th ” included:
- Event partners: Fleet Feet, Town of Vinton, Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia
- Title sponsor: American National Bank
- Water Stop Partner: Wisler Plumbing and Air
- Healthy Lifestyles Sponsors: Roanoke Valley Orthodontics, Gentry Locke Attorneys, Carilion Clinic, and Cox Communications
- Fitness Sponsor: FreedomFirst
- Wellness Sponsor: MemberOne
- In-Kind partners: Pok-E-Joe’s, Macado’s, Jenkins & Associates Real Estate Group, Mizumo, Blaque Light Productionz, Magnolia Frog Face Painting, The Sign Factory, BJ’s, RND, Press Press, and Q99
For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA, visit https://www.bgcswva.org/.