Story by Abby Siegel, Assistant News Editor
The Murray community has grown wings to financially support the new Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House, which will require an estimated $600,000 per month to operate.
The money raised from the annual Murray Half Marathon will support the new hospice house. Included in the runners’ race fee is a set of strap-on butterfly wings that runners are encouraged to wear during the race to remember or honor loved ones and celebrate their race training.
The wings are being used to symbolize transformation, the cycle of life and rebirth.
“Many people think of them as a way their loved ones are reborn and still with them,” said Emily Conrad, senior from St. Louis and intern at the Murray-Calloway County Hospital.
Non-runners can also participate in the “Why We Wear Wings” campaign by accepting or challenging others to wear them through the RE/MAX Butterfly Challenge. A similar concept to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, people must take a video of themselves wearing the wings and challenge someone else to wear them, and then upload the video to Facebook by tagging RE/MAX Real Estate Associates – Murray.
The challenge has raised over $7,000 so far and has sold more than 500 wings.
“Murray is a giving community,” said Nicole King, senior from Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
King is an intern at the Murray-Calloway County Hospital Endowment for Healthcare and has participated in recruiting wing challenge participants.
Tracy Williams, RE/MAX realtor, said she is optimistic that they will raise more money because the challenge still has a month to go and is “really starting to pick up.”
Williams said she is envisioning a “sea of butterflies taking off” when the race begins.
The challenge has become a community event that has united organizations, businesses and prominent leaders within Murray.
Among the butterfly challengers is Murray State President Bob Davies, who was challenged by the Murray-Calloway County Hospital CEO Jerry Penner. Others include Vanderbilt Chemical, Murray Police Department, Calloway Circuit Court Clerk’s office, Parker Lincoln Ford and Murray State’s chapter of Alpha Delta Pi among other businesses, organizations and individuals.
Wing challenge participant and city of Murray Mayor, Jack Rose, officially declared April 15 – the day before the race – “Wing Day” when Murray-Calloway citizens are encouraged to wear their wings in town to show support for the new hospice house.
“That will be an interesting day,” Williams said.
In addition to fundraising, one of the goals of the campaign is to bring awareness to hospice and its purpose in the community.
“Another huge goal of ours is to just connect better with the community and the university, so we love going out and talking with all these people and getting them involved with this amazing cause,” Conrad said.
Murray has continued to support the cause as organizations and businesses have continued to challenge each other daily.
“I really think Murray is the best community for this,” King said. “The more I tell people about the challenge, the more I am encouraged.”
Wings in a variety of colors can be purchased for $10 at the Murray-Calloway County Hospital Endowment Office, Murray-Calloway County Hospital cashier or from RE/MAX in Murray.