22nd annual Sullivan 5K benefits Martha’s Vineyard Hospital


The 22nd annual Sullivan 5K Run/Walk Road Race for Health and Fitness will be held August 28 in Oak Bluffs.

Louis Sullivan, who co-founded the event with his wife Ginger Sullivan and once served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be joined by current U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.

The event starts in Washington Park with a quarter-mile Kids Fun Run at 8:45 am for children 10 and under, followed by the 5K main event at 9 am.

“The Sullivan 5K is about being healthy and having fun doing it,” Dr. Benjamin says in a press release distributed by event organizers. “That goes to the heart of the ‘Surgeon General’s Vision for a Fit and Healthy America,’ and I’m happy to take part in this year’s event.”

“Walking is a great form of exercise,” adds Dr. Sullivan, who has walked as a means of keeping fit for more than 30 years. “In addition to promoting health and fitness, [the 5K] also benefits the hospital.”

Since the 5K’s formation in 1989, it has raised nearly $200,000 for Martha’s Vineyard Hospital through participation and sponsorships. Dr. Sullivan believes the hospital plays a crucial role on the Island providing basic health services and emergency care.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important having a hospital on the Vineyard is,” Dr. Sullivan says, who has been visiting the Island since 1966. “It’s an important institution for everyone, for summer visitors and people who live on the Island year-round.”

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has seen many changes since its incorporation in 1921, most recently the construction of a $42 million facility next door, finished in April.

“I have seen the hospital evolve since the 70s,” Dr. Sullivan says.

The project was funded without any taxpayer money — a remarkable feat made possible by generous donations and, presumably, fundraising events like the Sullivan 5K Run/Walk.

Pre-registration for the Sullivan 5K is August 27 from 3 to 6 pm in the main lobby of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. There’s a $15 pre-registration fee. Race day registration will take place in Washington Park from 7:30 to 8:30 am and costs $20 for the 5K. A $5 fee (during either registration period) will be charged for children wishing to participate in the Kids Fun Run.

The first 300 registered participants will receive a tee shirt. The event is divided into categories based on age. Participants with strollers and “well-behaved animals” on leashes are asked to start in the back. Prizes will be awarded to the top male and female in each category, and all children will receive a medal and a ticket for the Flying Horses Carousel.

Dr. Sullivan founded the Medical Education Program at his alma mater, Morehouse College, in 1975. The medical school became independent six years later and was renamed Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). Dr. Benjamin is a member of MSM’s second graduating class. In 1989, Dr. Sullivan was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the Secretary of Health and Human Services post, where he served until 1993, working to improve disease prevention and increase awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.

According to Dr. Sullivan, President Barack Obama has been notified about the 5K this weekend. The First Family’s vacation to the Vineyard has been well-documented, but it is unclear if the President or First Lady will attend Dr. Sullivan’s event. Michelle Obama, in particular, has focused on health and fitness initiatives since her husband’s inauguration, including her planting of a White House garden and the start of Let’s Move, her campaign to attack childhood obesity by promoting nutrition and exercise, this past February.

“I’m sure they [the Obama’s] know about the race, but we’re leaving it up to them if they want to participate,” Dr. Sullivan says, acknowledging that the family came to Martha’s Vineyard in search of some much-needed relaxation. “They’d be more than welcome.”

For more information about the Sullivan 5K Run/Walk Road Race for Health & Fitness, visit mvhospital.com/runwalk.