Memorial 5K benefits USM students


Sponsored by several local companies in the Hattiesburg area, the third Sweethearts for Sweetpea 5K will begin Feb. 4 at 8 a.m.

The funds collected for the race will contribute to the Elaina Spradley Skinner “Sweetpea” Endowment, which is awarded to University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Business Tourism Management students.

Elaina Skinner, for whom the endowment is named, attended USM’s School of Business for Tourism Management and graduated December 2013.

Elaina was described as having a “smile that lights up the room and the personality to match.” No one was a stranger to Elaina, and she befriended everyone she met. She was married two months before her graduation and described it as everything she had hoped for and so much more.

“On Feb. 8, 2014, in the early morning hours, Elaina Spradley Skinner, or ‘Sweetpea’ as she was affectionately known to her family and friends, was driving home while under the influence of alcohol and tragically killed in an automobile accident at the age of 23,” wrote Sweethearts for Sweetpea organizer Lisa Spradley.

According to the 5K’s website, in creating the endowment and the race, they hoped to give other students financial aid especially because Elaina herself earned several scholarships during her time at USM.

“We celebrate her life by remembering her in everything we do,” the website stated.

Spradley can be reached at 601-297-3546 or through the aforementioned website for questions about the race or endowment.

Registration is open now and discounted from $25 to $15 for USM students who wish to participate in the event. The registration forms are available on the website; students need to write “student” on their registration forms and present a valid student ID the day of the race to run and receive a t-shirt at the discounted price.