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Raeleigh’s Run finishes first

Raeleigh McCartha ran the one-mile fun run with her father, Josh. This is the McCarthas’ first time attending the run. Journal Photo/Joey Meredith

By: Railey Ayers

At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, nearly 100 runners clad in superhero gear lined up at Collegedale Church of Christ in Troy to embark on a trek through the Troy University campus, all for a young girl named Raeleigh Jane McCartha, who has been valiantly fighting neuroblastoma since last year.  Raeleigh’s Run was established last year as a run to help with medical and living expenses for McCartha and her family.

The race, according to coordinator Andrea Frost, was envisioned as an annual event since day one. “The run was started as an event to help Raeleigh, but we knew that we wanted to make it an annual thing from the beginning,” Frost said. “We chose to raise money for Raeleigh and her family once again this year. Our hopes and prayers are for Raeleigh to be cancer-free, and for us to be able to use this event in the future to help with expenses for other children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Between the 5K and one mile fun run, the race hosted just shy of 100 runners.  While this year’s attendance was lower than last year’s, those associated with the event testify that the lower numbers did not change the positive atmosphere at all.

“Everyone had a great time,” Frost said. “Overall, we had so much support, especially from our sponsors.”

The one-mile fun run portion of the race was open to anyone willing to participate, but was designated especially for children wanting to help the cause.  The event’s other race, a 5K, was a timed event with awards handed out to winners. By having both a timed event and an untimed event, Frost hoped to draw in more participants and make sure that there was a race that appealed to everyone.

“We don’t want to only appeal to competitive runners,” Frost said. “We want anyone, runner or walker, to come and join in on the fun and fellowship.”

The 5K runners were divided into different age groups, with awards given to the top runner of each age category.  Alicia Sexton was the top female runner, with a time of 25:34.7, Chance Turner took home the prize for males 19 and under, Logan Bagwell placed first among runners aged 20-29 and Lee Vardaro topped the runners between the ages of 30 and 39.

While some runners donned comic book-worthy outfits, including shirts emblazoned with Captain America, Superman, Raeleigh’s run logos, tutus, and even capes. One of the participants easily won the title of most heroic.  McCartha herself donned a tulle tutu and red converse, lending runners smiles and motivation along the course. She and her father Josh McCartha, who pushed her in a stroller for the duration of the race, ran in the one-mile fun run.

The fun-filled benefit precedes a busy week for the McCartha family as they travel to Nashville, Tennessee.  McCartha is slated for tests and scans at Vanderbilt University in hopes of being accepted into a trial for a drug that helps prevent the recurrence of neuroblastoma.  Updates on McCartha can be found on her Facebook page entitled Team Raeleigh Jane.