Zombies rise up for a cause

Melinda Malin, center, participates in the annual Zombie Walk Saturday, September 17 in Bowling Green. Malin has attended the past two years. “I love it; it’s far too cool to pass up,” she said. Tyger Williams/HERALD

Adam Sims

A storm passed through Bowling Green on Saturday cooling the late summer heat. As the rain stopped, the undead rose and zombies shambled across downtown. The hoard of zombies wasn’t out to eat brains or to spread a virus, but to save lives.

The Bowling Green Zombie Walk, hosted by Bowling Green’s Kiwanis Club, invited people from around the city to dress up as zombies and other Halloween and horror-themed characters in a fundraiser for the Eliminate Project, a partnership between UNICEF and Kiwanis International.

The Eliminate Project seeks to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), a deadly disease that steals the lives of nearly 49,000 babies each year, according to Kiwanis’ website.

MNT affects both mothers and children of impoverished countries, spreading through tetanus spores in soil. Symptoms of MNT include convulsions and an extreme sensitivity to light and touching; according to Kiwanis, MNT can kill one baby every 11 minutes. Since 2010, the Eliminate Project has raised $110 million worldwide to provide vaccinations against MNT according to its website.

This Saturday was the third year Bowling Green Kiwanis Club put on the Zombie Walk in support of the Eliminate Project.

“What sparked the idea was the zombie craze,” Kiwanis Club member Sue Fleschner said, mentioning popular zombie-themed shows like AMC drama “The Walking Dead.”

Last year, the Kiwanis Club raised $8,000 from the event, simultaneously giving zombie enthusiasts a chance to celebrate the undead.

D93 WDNS, Bowling Green’s classic rock radio station, was the media sponsor of the walk. Zombies gathered at the station’s building on Saturday afternoon to register and donate at least $10 each to participate before they were unleashed onto the streets.

“Seeing people go all out with the makeup and attire is pretty cool,” Tony Rose, D93 Morning Show host and public service director, said. “It’s definitely something different from a traditional 5K run.”

Before the walk began, some participants paid an extra $5 to get zombie makeup at Sun Suites Salon & Spa, an official sponsor of the event. Bloodied, bruised, rotting and peeling fake skin was applied to some of the participants.

“It’s a fun thing for the kids, and I hope it grows every year,” Sun Suites Salon & Spa owner Felecia Hudson said, watching her business turn into a zombie lair. This year was the first time Sun Suites Salon & Spa participated in the event by doing make-up.

Zombies weren’t the only fictional characters at the event; the Western Kentucky Ghostbusters attended as well, dressed in full Ghostbuster attire. Formed in 2003, the Western Kentucky Ghostbusters help charities raise money, including the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

“Anything for charity, we’ll show up,” Western Kentucky Ghostbusters representative Chris Flanigan said. “It’s always good to use your nerdom for something positive.”

For an hour, the zombies shambled and groaned across the streets, not taking any lives, but instead, hoping to save many.

Reporter Adam Sims can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @adamsimswriter.