Fifth Third transfers ownership of River Bank Run


The Fifth Third River Bank Run pumps about $1.8 million annually into West Michigan’s economy. Courtesy Fifth Third Bank

An annual Grand Rapids charity event has a new owner and manager.

The annual River Bank Run is now owned and managed by River Bank Events and Media.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank will continue as title sponsor of the race.

“Adding race management expertise and new sponsors will enhance the race-day experience for participants and fans,” said Scott Stenstrom, race director and regional marketing manager, Fifth Third Bank. “New sponsors will support Fifth Third in driving long-term growth and sustainability of the event and furthering economic development in Grand Rapids. 

Stenstrom will remain race director for 2018 as a Fifth Third employee.  

Russ Hines, the owner and CEO of River Bank Events and Media, will then take on the race director role, alongside his two employees: Lauralee Mathieu, race operations director, and Sarah Laurent, special events coordinator.

Fifth Third will continue to provide volunteers, serve on the race committee and provide any other counsel needed.

“As a lifetime resident of West Michigan, I’ve become very familiar with the Fifth Third River Bank Run,” Hines said. “My experience with event promotion and management will help guide me during this new endeavor. I’m excited to have this opportunity to continue the race with the support of the race staff, race committee and hundreds of volunteers. Our overall goal is to ensure that the race will continue for another 40 years.”

Amway will sponsor the event for the second year, and Spectrum Health is a new sponsor for 2018.

Each year, nonprofits benefit from race proceeds that have totaled more than $2.3 million since 2009.

There are several charity partners for 2018: Conductive Learning Center; Kids Hope USA; Meals on Wheels-Western Michigan; Mental Health Foundation of Michigan – “be nice.”; Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services; and Wedgwood Christian Services.

“For more than 40 years, Fifth Third has proudly supported this road race every second Saturday in May — from inception, to growth in participation, to supporting important charitable causes,” Stenstrom said. “Since 1978, more than $40 million has been contributed back to our community.”

There are several key dates for the 2018 event: May 9 for the junior run for ages 5-12; May 11 for the sports and fitness expo at DeVos Place; and May 12 for the 5k walk and run, 10k, 25k, and handcycle and wheelchair races.

People can register online

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