The 13th annual Cobb County 5K to benefit Make-A-Wish Georgia started at 8 a.m., with the first runners crossing the finish line in just over 15 minutes.
“The weather is beautiful and the participation is amazing,” said Make-A-Wish Georgia’s Chief Executive Officer John J. Brennan.
The 3.1-mile route ran north up Cherokee Street, looping over to Allgood Road and coming south down Church Street.
Money raised by registration fees and sponsorship donations will go to grant wishes for Cobb County children from 2½ to 18 years old with life threatening conditions.
Races in Cobb County are some of the organization’s most successful events, which typical bring in over $30,000 per race, according to Fabiola Charles, with Make-A-Wish Georgia out of Atlanta.
Teams in matching T-shirts were grouped together, prepping each other up for the early morning jog.
One team of 18 ladies from Weight Watchers in Kennesaw said running as a group is more fun and social.
“We don’t run hard,” said Jan Blake, who added that the group tries to find charity runs that benefit children or cancer causes.
Pat Thayer, who participated in the Make-A-Wish race last year, said a small marathon is a good motivator to reach a weight loss goal.
Thayer, who typically does a combination of running and walking, said she has cut down five or six minutes from her time last year.
A family affair
Jim and Lindsey Friedlander of Marietta were near the middle of the large group waiting for the race to kick off.
Although it was Lindsey Friedlander’s first Make-A-Wish 5K, she is training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, a 13.1-mile course through Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, at the end of February.
Lindsey Friedlander said she “drug” her husband, Jim Friedlander, to his first race, where he was in charge of pushing their 11-month-old son, Cooper, in an enclosed stroller with large wheels.
“I haven’t trained for it,” Jim Friedlander said. “I just came to do the best I can for a good cause.”
In 2012, the Cobb County 5K had 649 registered runners that raised $38,000 that granted five wishes.
Brennan said Make-A-Wish kids who survive and live to adulthood say the experience helped save their lives by helping their families through a difficult time.
“The impact is truly monumental and treasured for a lifetime,” Brennan said.
In the last year, Make-A-Wish Georgia has granted 426 wishes state-wide, averaging about $8,000 per family, which includes trips to theme parks and gifts of backyard play sets.
Some “unique, heart-felt wishes” have included blessings from the pope and playing cello for President Obama, Brennan said.