The Merritt Country Run Committee is seeking a new race director as it moves along in planning next year’s race.

Current director Mary Jorgensen has been organizing the race for five years, but said she is looking to pass the torch in organizing the 5K, 10K and half-marathon races on June 8, 2014.

The committee is also looking to fill the sponsorship leader role and a team champion to encourage teams from schools or businesses to enter the run.

The committee is seeking about 80 volunteers for race day.

The run raises money for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program, which helps cover equipment and/or registration costs for children between four and 18 whose families couldn’t otherwise afford organized sports or other extracurricular activities.

Last year, the Merritt Country Run raised $2,500 for Jumpstart.

The applications are processed by the Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society, and executive director Lenora Fletcher said the run is one of the biggest fundraisers for the cause.

“If you guys all of a sudden stopped giving to Jumpstart, we’d go from increasing the number of kids we help to being lucky if we could give one-third of what we currently do. This run is an important component for the success of Jumpstart,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the program is growing in popularity in the area.

“The bands can only go so far and only help so much, so I’ve informed the bands that if they’re turning kids away, tell them to come to us,” she said, adding Jumpstart can take applications for all kinds of activities. “In the past, it used to be for your hockey, ballet and swim, but now they’re expanding out more where they’re even doing cadets. A lot of people don’t realize we can do that.”

In 2010, the Jumpstart program helped 119 children access sport and extracurricular activities in Merritt, with nearly half of those children between four and eight years old.

“It is rewarding to know that our contributions are going somewhere and are helping kids and it does play an important role in Merritt,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said the committee eventually wants to see 100 per cent of runners’ registration costs go to Jumpstart.

Anyone interested in being on the committee can contact [email protected]. The committee’s next meeting is Oct. 23.