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5K fundraiser held for Flower Branch Apartment victims

SILVER SPRING, Md. — More than 130 people came together Sunday morning for the Discover Long Branch 5K, a fundraiser for the victims of the natural gas explosion and fire at Flower Branch Apartments on Aug. 10.

“This is just another way to show support financially and also to physically come together as a community and do something together,” said Jheanelle Wilkins.

The Long Branch Business League had initially had planned the race as a community event but decided after the tragedy to use it to raise money for the victims.  The blast killed seven people, injured 40 and displaced about 100 residents.

Wilkins said she had never participated in a five kilometer race before but said she she wanted to show support for the victims.

“I think that throughout this entire tragedy, what I’ve really been able to see, felt like I’ve been a part of, is wrapping our arms around our neighbors when they need it the most,” Wilkins said.

John Angel, one of the event’s organizers, said the race raised $2,000 for the victims. Angel is member of the Long Branch Business League and is the general manager of El Gavilan Restaurant, which serves Salvadoran fare.

He said organizers will have nine months to prepare for next year’s event, which will  honor those who died in the explosion. Next year’s race also will be an official race — this year’s race was not timed.

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