ALBANY — Corey Fitzgerald will be among more than 1,000 people likely to race through Albany’s avenues on a cold December day to raise money for infants and toddlers with medical problems.
As part of the annual Jingle Bell Jog, the Albany 10-year-old has been working to raise money by forming the “Team Roadrunner” Facebook page and by soliciting donations at public events like the Exchange Club Fair.
Kellie Johns, Corey’s mother, said her son is passionate about the cause: Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s Children’s Miracle Network program.
“Corey is passionate for CMN because he loves kids,” she said. “He knows the money goes to help the sick kids at Phoebe, and that is his motivation. The more money he gets for them, the better chance they have of getting better.”
Now in its 25th year, the Jingle Bell Jog is a staple among Albany area running events and is one of Phoebe CMN’s largest fundraisers, Program Coordinator Amanda Biery says.
“Last year we raised about $50,000 to supplement our CMN account,” Biery said. “This year we’re hoping to beat that number again. Last year we had about 1,200 participants and sold over 3,000 T-shirts.”
The T-shirts are for sale regardless if someone intends to run, walk or jog in the actual race, Biery said.
The money raised has been used to purchase equipment that is dedicated to helping newborns who may have been premature and are suffering from some kind of medical issue or young children who require a level of specialized care.
“We’ve used the money to help buy quarter-million-dollar specialty ambulances and $30,000 giraffe beds,” Biery said. “One hundred percent of every dollar raised stays here locally. It doesn’t go off to a national organization who then dictates to us how to spend those dollars. It stays locally to treat our local children.”
Phoebe is one of six CMN hospitals in the state and the only one within the Southwest Georgia region. The closest CMN hospitals are in Macon and Columbus.
The event itself consists of a 5K and 10K fun run, a one-mile fun walk and, for the first time in the event’s history, a toddler trot.
It will begin at 8 a.m. on Dec. 1 at Phoebe Healthworks.
Those interested can visit www.jinglebelljog.org to register or get more information. The deadline to register is Nov. 28.