Generations of joggers, walkers and runners gathered at Washington Park in Oak Bluffs on Saturday morning for the 22nd annual Sullivan 5K Run and Walk for Health and Fitness. The fundraiser for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital had all the trappings of a family reunion and social until the race began and the group suddenly rushed en masse down the street. Prior to the start, participants lingered about, sharing stories and sipping from bottles of water.

man with megaphone starts the race

Close to the official 9 o’clock start, youngsters 10 and under took turns doing quick sprints across the park in miniature races. Their parents watched, taking photographs with digital cameras.

On the light and healthy side of politics, the walk was an opportunity for a reunion between a teacher and his former student. Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, the nation’s 18th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, who took the job last year, greeted her medical school teacher and mentor, the man who came up with the idea for the walk and a longtime Vineyard proponent of health and exercise. Dr. Louis W. Sullivan served as Health and Human Services Secretary under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993.

“He was my professor in medical school,” said Dr. Benjamin, who was in the second class at the medical school at Morehouse University in Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Sullivan was the medical school’s founding dean.

walkers in the race

“Exercise is medicine,” declared the U.S. Surgeon General.

The Sullivan Walk/Run was founded by Dr. Sullivan and his wife Ginger in the summer of 1988. The event has raised over $200,000 for the hospital since its inception. Saturday’s walk and run raised $26,000.

“This event is a tribute to Dr. Sullivan,” said Tim Walsh, president and chief executive officer of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Mr. Walsh and Tim Sweet, chairman of the hospital board of directors joined with Dr. Benjamin in front of the runners, to officiate the start of the event. With the sun behind them and temperatures in the low 80s, the joggers rushed down East Chop Drive in a flood of colorful shirts and fast moving legs. The participants ranged in age from six to 85. Runners and walkers came from all over the Island and all over the country. A light ocean breeze cooled the morning; the day would turn hot by afternoon.

Oak Bluffs police provided escort and traffic control along the five-kilometer route around scenic East Chop. Coordination and tabulating of results was done by Greystone Racing. There were 242 participants this year, up from last year. All participants received a special, limited edition orange T-shirt. Young runners and walkers received free tickets to the Flying Horses carousel, courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.

Organizers for this year’s event were the hospital development staff, Erin Tilton and Colette Sylva. “I want to give my staff special credit for working on this. They started preparing the day after last year’s event,” said Rachel Vanderhoop, director of development at the hospital.

Scott Bosworth, 45, of Edgartown completed the race in 18 minutes and 11 seconds. He was followed seven seconds later by Paul Vertefeuille, 46, of Vineyard Haven. Third place in elapsed time went to Tracy Reade, 28, of Oak Bluffs. He completed the race in 19 minutes and three seconds.

The first woman to cross the finish line was Stephanie Hancock, 30, of Redondo Beach, Calif. In the top 25, the youngest runner was Benjamin Bosworth, 15 from Edgartown.

Some of the youngest participants rode in strollers, pushed by a walking or running parent. A couple of dogs also joined the walk.

While the hospital has a number of fund-raising events throughout the year, this is the summer family event, Ms. Vanderhoop said.

“Our job is to promote good health and I think it starts with the family,” she said. “Everyone left a winner.”