CULLMAN, Ala. – With clouds hanging overhead and the temperature in the 70s, Saturday morning provided near-perfect conditions for the sixth annual Nicholas Fillinger Memorial Run. Approximately 140 runners registered for this year’s event and the trail at St. Bernard was full of participants of all ages who came to honor Nicholas’ memory and support a great cause. Nicholas, a cross country and track athlete at Cullman High School, died tragically in a training accident in September 2013.
The proceeds from the event will go to the Nicholas Fillinger Foundation, which supports the “Not Forgotten” orphanage in Peru and provides a college scholarship to a student who possesses character and skills similar to Nicholas – passion, protection, competitiveness, determination, compassion, and justice. Nicholas’ mother, Julie Fillinger, loves being able to support a good cause through this annual event.
“The proceeds will almost entirely go to an orphanage called “Not Forgotten” in Peru,” Fillinger said. “We were introduced to that after Nicholas died and now, we’re monthly supporters and the missionary is actually here today to speak for “Not Forgotten”. It rescues boys off the street, puts them in a family-style home and they just thrive in that environment. So, it replaces all the bad that was done with the goodness of being in a family environment.”
Julie says that the biggest turnout they’ve had so far is still the inaugural run but participation and support from the community has remained consistent each year.
“The first year was the biggest, we probably had about 250 and that was right after Nicholas died so children from school and all that came out and now this year is bigger than the last couple years,” Fillinger said. “It’s definitely the most pre-registered people we’ve had.”
It’s been nearly six years since Nicholas’ accident and Julie is always excited to see family, friends, teammates, church members and others in the community turn out to honor her son’s memory by doing what he loved in a place that he loved.
“It’s greatly encouraging, not only because it honors Nicholas’ memory but also because all the proceeds go to the orphanage so we love supporting that,” Fillinger said. “It’s exciting and a big deal for us.”
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