On Oct. 4, Mary Mack crossed the finish line of the Anne Springs Close Greenway’s annual Springmaid Trail Race to hundreds of supporters’ cheers.
Nearly 400 runners participated in the 5K and 10K races to support the Mary Warner Mack Memorial Dog Park, set to open next summer as one of the projects included in the greenway’s $15 million capital campaign, said Elizabeth Bowers, marketing and administrative coordinator for the park.
The park was named in memory of Mary Mack’s late daughter, a Fort Mill woman who passed away suddenly July 3 at age 23. Mary Warner Mack spent much time at the greenway and was known for her love of dogs, especially her golden retriever Ava.
Mary Warner’s father, Barry Mack, and Ava cheered on Mary Mack from the sidelines.
“Ava’s a little bit of a celebrity,” Mary Mack said afterward.
The community raised $16,700 at the race, bringing the total raised for the dog park to $165,700, Bowers said.
“This is a community and nationwide effort for people who care about this family,” she said.
Mack said her family was surrounded by support at the race from her three daughters’ friends, Mary Warner’s Bank of America team members and community members.
“It’s a wonderful way for people to feel they are doing something positive for the community,” she said. “It exposes people to the greenway who live here and didn’t know we were here. It’s very much a community event.”
Fort Mill resident Joyce Burgess, a friend of the Mack family, said she ran to show her support. Burgess’ daughter Lauren Burgess, 17, is good friends with the Macks’ youngest daughter, Bayles Mack; both attend Nation Ford High School.
“It’s a wonderful way to support the Mary Warner Mack Memorial Dog Park and get a little exercise on a Saturday morning,” Joyce Burgess said. “Mary Warner was a mentor to all young girls. If you told her someone needed help, her first response was to ask how she could help.”
Burgess said she was happy to see so many people of all ages come out to support the park.
Georgia Sullivan, 11, ran with her sister Ella, 10, and father, Alex Sullivan, a greenway board member.
“I thought it was really fun,” Georgia said. “Everyone did great.”
Alex Sullivan said they wanted to support the Macks as a family.
“We ran in memory of Marry Warner Mack and to support the dog park,” he said. “It’s a great event. I’m glad to see so many people out here.”
Sullivan said he didn’t know Mary Warner personally but that from what he has heard, “she sounds like an extraordinary young lady.”
As the 35-year tradition of the Springmaid Trail Race continues, the greenway is looking to spread its community reach, Bowers said.
“As it evolves, we’d like to see it have a philanthropic approach,” she said. “Anything we can do to give people a tangible connection to why they should give is important. It encourages another demographic of racers.”
The greenway is working on finalizing the plans for the dog park and is on track to open early next summer, Bowers said. The off-leash dog park will span at least 5 acres on the Field Trail Barn section of the nature preserve.
This year’s race will help ensure the dog park becomes the community amenity it’s envisioned to be, Bowers said.
“It will be 10 times the dog park it would have been because of this community support,” she said. “It’s a testament to the Macks and the kind of family they are. It’s going to be a great facility.”
For more information, go to ascgreenway.org.