Lou Gillespie, right, picks up her bib number dressed for the occasion.

The eighth annual Run with Deer 5K event at Big Pine Community Park on Feb. 17 showcased a vibrant gathering of participants, including runners, walkers and volunteers. The event not only brought together individuals eager to engage in physical activity, but also aimed to support a noble cause: raising funds for the Florida Keys Wildlife Society. With the presence of a distinctive and spirited herd of “deer,” the event combined community engagement with conservation efforts in the beautiful setting of the park.

This year’s run totaled a record-setting 259 participants joining forces to support the Florida Keys Wildlife Society. This 503(b) nonprofit organization is dedicated to advancing the conservation efforts of the four National Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys region through various means including education, non-adversarial advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising. The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. The Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges encompasses nearly a half a million acres of land and water habitats critical to the survival of numerous species of wildlife.

Photos by Brewster Rhoads and Jen Alexander

Jen Alexander
Jen Alexander is a teacher and volleyball coach at Sugarloaf School. She is a lover of travel, adventure, action, home improvement and family. A self-proclaimed "master of none," she is a doer of all and partaker of anything fun and exciting.