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Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway

FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway Roanoke Valley chapter invites you to a meeting next Wednesday (March 12) to find out more information about the next generation of stewards. Velvet Hall has more…


The meeting is at the South County Library at 6:00 p.m.


FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway Roanoke Valley chapter is helping to recruit Blue Ridge Marathon volunteers:

  • Course marshals, who direct and cheer on the runners and
  • Aid station teams, who help keep the runners energized with water and snacks.

To volunteer, visit the Blue Ridge Marathon website at and click on “Volunteer.”


FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway news release:


Eshelman to Discuss Engaging the Next Generation

of Blue Ridge Parkway Stewards

Roanoke, VA. – Pete Eshelman of Roanoke Outside will discuss the region’s evolving relationship with the Blue Ridge Parkway at the next FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway‐Roanoke Valley Chapter meeting Wednesday, March 12 at 6 p.m. at South County Library. The public is invited to attend.


Roanoke Outside is a 501(c)3 organization, whose mission is to showcase the region’s outdoor amenities and its commitment to making outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship a core component of the region’s lifestyle.


“People are not engaging with the Blue Ridge Parkway the same way they were when it was initially built,” says Eshelman. “When it was built, no one was riding bicycles for recreation.”


Eshelman is Roanoke Outside director and co‐chair of its signature event, the Blue Ridge Marathon, with John Carlin.


“One of the reasons we choose to have the Blue Ridge Parkway as part of the marathon course is our desire to showcase the Parkway to new users – new users who want to engage with it in ways other than from the inside of a car. If we want to see the next generation continue to care for the Blue Ridge Parkway, we need to find ways to engage their interests,” says Eshelman.


The marathon was created in 2009 as a way to connect the region with the parkway and boost national awareness of the region’s diverse outdoor amenities. The inception and ongoing success of the Blue Ridge Marathon have been the result of public‐private cooperation, involving the support of Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who has been a liaison with the National Park Service (NPS)‐ Blue Ridge Parkway.


The first Blue Ridge Marathon was hosted in 2010, the year of the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since then, a beneficiary of the marathon has been FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a volunteer organization that works with the NPS to ensure the parkway’s future through stewardship and fundraising.


“Roanoke is the largest urban area along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so there is a great need for a strong parkway‐community relationship to assure better land management and scenic protection, while meeting the region’s outdoor recreational interests,” says Heidi Ketler, chair of the Roanoke Valley Chapter of FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway.


To date, more than $53,500 in marathon proceeds has funded such parkway activities as Junior Rangers, children’s fishing and music programs at Humpback Rocks, Peaks of Otter, Roanoke Campground, Mabry Mill and the Blue Ridge Music Center, according Ketler.


Today, the Blue Ridge Marathon’s 26.2‐mile course is known as “America’s Toughest Road Marathon.” It starts in Downtown Roanoke and climbs to the top of Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain for a total elevation change of 7,440 feet.


Last year, the marathon drew 1,684 runners from across the country and overseas. Based on survey results, the event supported more than a $1.5 million in total regional economic impact in its first four years.


FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway is leading a number of Saturday “Love Your Parkway” Cleanup Days to help ensure the parkway is ready for the marathon. Scheduled on March 22, April 5, April 12 and April 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the work days will focus on the portion of marathon course that is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. FRIENDS also is recruiting volunteers to support runners on the day of the marathon. For more information, contact Ketler at


Based in Roanoke, Va., FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the only volunteer‐driven, 501(c)3 not-for‐profit organization solely dedicated to helping the National Park Service protect, preserve, enhance and celebrate America’s favorite scenic drive. FRIENDS’ more than 10,000 members work to ensure the Blue Ridge Parkway’s future through stewardship and fundraising that supports volunteer service projects, as well as youth and adult education programs.


In light of deep federal budget cuts and a significant decrease in staffing, the Blue Ridge Parkway needs friends and partners more than ever. To volunteer for, donate to or become a member of FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway send an e‐mail to, visit or call (800) 228‐PARK (7275).