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Jingle Bell Jog rings up funds for childrens health

The popular Albany is a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network

Dawn Floyd, left, and and Lacey Culpepper showed up in tutus for the 10K run at the Jingle Bell Jog on Saturday. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

Dawn Floyd, left, and and Lacey Culpepper showed up in tutus for the 10K run at the Jingle Bell Jog on Saturday. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

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Hundreds of runners at the Jingle Bell Jog, a benefit for the Children’s Miracle Network, launch for a 10K run around selected Albany neighborhoods Saturday. The 26th annual benefit also included a 5K run, a one-mile walk and a toddler trot for children 4 years old or younger. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

ALBANY — Dedicated runners were on their marks at Phoebe Health Works, 311 W. Third Ave., early Saturday for the 26th annual Jingle Bell Jog, a benefit for Children’s Miracle Network. Families were there, too. Even young children came for the Jingle Bell toddler trot, a two-lap event around the Health Works track.

The first event, the 10K run, began promptly at 8 a.m., with participants off for a jaunt around Albany’s Rawson Circle and adjoining neighborhoods. Set to follow was the toddler trot, a 5K run and a one-mile walk. The 10K and 5K events were sectioned into categories ranging from 6-9 years to ages 75 and up. Amanda Biery, Children’s Miracle Network coordinator, said more than 1,100 runners were pre-registered for Saturday’s event.

“Some of (the participants) are die-hard runners,” Biery said, “and have trained hard for the race. But we get a lot of families just out for a good morning with their children.”

Biery said that 100 percent of every dollar raised through the Jingle Bell Jog is used locally to treat ill and injured children in Southwest Georgia.

“This is a great event for Albany and for Phoebe,” said runner Tony Blakey. “We come out every year.”

Blakey’s oldest son, 14-yearold Jacob, agreed.

“It’s a fun race,” Jacob Blakey said. “I started running when I turned eight and I’ve done it ever since.”

Braden Miller got into running two years ago with the Run For God group at Albany Christian Church when they developed a “couch to 5K” training program with a Bible study built in, he said. There hasn’t been a class this year, but the running bug remains with a lot of the members, Miller said.

“We got a lot of people who ran two years ago and have kept it up,” Miller said. “The program takes you from the couch to a 5K race in 12 weeks.”

Rebeka Cash, another member of Run For God, teaches kindergarten at Kinchafoonee Primary in Leesburg. She runs to keep herself fit and to have fun with her friends, she said. She and her female running buddies ran the 10K in brightly colored tutus.

“I played soccer and ran in high school,” Cash said. “I do it as a stress reliever and for fun.”

Mandy Flynn was helping out the cause by selling little “goody bags” filled with coloring books, t-shirts and treats for toddlers.

“A lot of the moms are running races so they like to bring the toddlers out and get them started. Hopefully they’ll want to run when they get older,” Flynn said.