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Easing down the road, via walk or run, raises money for Challenged Child
Participants start the Challenged Child and Friends One Mile Fun Run/Walk on Sunday at River Forks Park. - photo by Tom Reed

Despite the chilly wind and cold temperatures, hundreds gathered Sunday afternoon at River Forks Park in Gainesville to participate in the Challenged Child and Friends 5K Run and One Mile Fun Run/Walk.

The event, a fundraiser for Challenged Child, traditionally is held each year on the last Sunday in February. The top finishers were awarded cash prizes and ceramic pottery made by board member Robin Smith.

"It’s a chance to sponsor an event for people who like to run and walk," said J.C. Smith, the Interim Executive Director for Challenged Child.

Challenged Child and Friends is an early
intervention center in Northeast Georgia for children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. The center helps children with a variety of challenges and developmental delays and offers them individualized attention and instruction. Typically developing children also are served at the school. Every child and their families are welcomed.

"Our main focus is to help children with disabilities," said Smith. "We don’t turn anyone away."

This fundraiser helps to fund scholarships for the children who attend the school.

"We have the most kids enrolled at the school we ever had this year," said Gail Schneider, event organizer. "We have $160,000 more in scholarship requests."

Folks of all ages participated in each event on Sunday.

"I wanted to help Challenged Child and Friends, and I wanted to get a good run in," said Zach Holcomb, 14, of Cumming. He participated in the 5K.

It was the second year Nikki Conner, 26, of Gainesville, had participated in the event for Challenged Child.

"I enjoy running, and it’s such a great cause. It helps out Challenged Child," said Conner, who also ran in the 5K. She said she enjoyed "just the atmosphere and the people coming together and helping the Challenged Child organization."

Like Conner, many others also had participated in last year’s event.

"I did it last year. I had a lot of fun," said Megan Martin, 23, of Flowery Branch. "I like having events on the calender. It helps you keep in shape during the year."

Schneider said about 400 people had pre-registered for the event and many more showed up to register at the event.

Schneider said she enjoyed "the amazing turnout from the community."