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Area 5K races raise money to help people in the community

The season for 5K races is upon us and in addition to being a healthy activity to enjoy with friends and family, these races often raise money for a good cause.

This weekend three such races will be taking place. One event raises money for a young girl with a brain tumor. Another run supports Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a disease the affects approximately one in 6,000 children born in the United States each year, according to the SMA Foundation. The third event is the annual Open Door Walk Classic which also has a 5K fun run.

SMA 5K -- Eat 'n Run

Kari Merriken and her husband, Kanaan, had never heard of SMA before their son, Caleb, was diagnosed in 2010. She said since the disease is progressive -- there is no cure or treatment -- they felt powerless.

Last year she got together with friends and family and helped organize an 11-person committee to host the first SMA 5K -- Eat 'n Run.

The event was so successful -- Merriken said they raised over $54,000 -- that they're doing it again this year.

The event will take place Saturday at Hardaway High School. Pre-registration is available online with early registration discounts; however, day-of registration will also be available beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Registered participants will receive a t-shirt and Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit. There will also be free games for kids.

All proceeds go to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, an organization that supports research and families with SMA.

"To us, it was the best place to put that money because they are at the forefront of finding a cure," said Merriken. "(SMA) is a horrible disease and we just really want to bring an end to it."

The SMA 5K -- Eat 'n Run will begin at 8 a.m. at Hardaway High School, 2901 College Drive. Early online registration is $20 for ages 11 and older, $10 for ages 3-10, free for ages 3 and younger and ends Wednesday. The fee increases by $5 for day-of registration. For more information, contact Kari Merriken at 706-718-5580.

Diva Dash for Tori Svenson

The Diva Dash will raise money for 7-year-old Tori Svenson, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. The event will take place 8 p.m. Friday at Cascade Hills Church, 727 54th St.; registration will be held from 6-7:30 p.m.

Registration is $35. For more information, contact Butch Jordan at bjordon@cascadehills.com.

Open Door Walk Classic

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary for the Open Door event. It's from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Columbus State University Intramural Field and Pavilion. Kids' activities and live music will take place.

Walkers should download forms from www.odch.org and raise money for the walk. Registration for the 5K fun run is $25 and same-day registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Call 706-323-5518, for more information.

Plenty of other opportunities to stay physically fit and help raise money and awareness for good causes will take place throughout the spring. Here are few:

Auburn's Mellow Dog 5K

This race will take place near the Mellow Mushroom in downtown Auburn at 6 p.m. EST Saturday. Registration is $25 through Friday and $30 on race day. For more information or to register, visit Big Dog Running store locations or www.bigdogrunning.com.

Red, White and Blue Veterans 10K/5K/1-mile

This race will take place at 8 a.m. March 31 at Rotary Park. All race registration fees will benefit the Chattahoochee Valley Homeless Veteran Initiatives. Register in-person through March 29, noon-9 p.m., at the Chattahoochee Valley Veteran Council, 1000 Victory Drive. Cost is $30 for the 10K, $25 for the 5K and $20 for the one-mile run. Packet pick-up will be March 29 at the Veteran Council office. Check-in starts at 7 a.m. on race day.

For details, contact Romal Holder at 706-593-3393 or rholder@redwhiteandbluerun.com

Big Dog Trail Run 10K

This trail run will be held at 8:30 a.m. April 7 at Flat Rock Park. Register at Big Dog Running stores and www.bigdogrunning.com. Registration is $25 through April 6 and $30 on race day.

2012 Celebrity Classic 5K/10K Run

The 2012 Celebrity Classic 5K/10K Run will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 14 at the Infantry Center Museum and Soldiers Field, 3800 South Lumpkin Rd. Registration is $20 through April 11 and $25 on the day of the run.

Proceeds from the run will benefit the John B. Amos Cancer Center.

For more information or to register, contact Sandy Lewack at 706-660-6115.

Midtown Classic 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run

This run will take place at Wynnton United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 21. The one-mile race starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K at 9 a.m., with a course that runs through Midtown Columbus. Live music and an after-party with food and door prizes await.

The event will raise money for the Wynnton Neighborhood Network, a non-profit organization that provides food and other necessities to families in Midtown Columbus; and Wynnton Neighborhood Housing, a non-profit organization that improves the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing in the East Wynnton Neighborhood.

The one-mile run costs $10; before April 6, the 5K costs $15 for Columbus Roadrunners members and $20 for non-members.

Register at www.wynntonumc.org or 706-324-2424.

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