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Rain doesn’t deter Johnston Health runners

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SMITHFIELD — Stormy weekend weather didn’t stop Saturday’s eighth annual Johnston Health Champions 5K and 10K runs.

“It was cloudy Saturday,” said Sol Halliburton, director of the Johnston Health Foundation. “Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for us to have a race and we had a great turnout.”

The annual event benefits the hospital’s Healthy Kids Fund and the Heart Fund.

“The Healthy Kids Fund provides scholarships for at-risk and underserved youth in Johnston County to participate in the Healthy Kids program at HealthQuest Fitness and Wellness Center, which provides nutritional counseling and fitness instruction,” said Halliburton. “The goal of the Healthy Kids program is to create an environment where youth can receive exercise instruction under the direction of degreed and certified trainers, in addition to nutritional guidance and support from licensed dietitians and physicians. The program also engages parents in nutritional guidance.”

Halliburton said donations will help pay for program scholarships awarded on financial hardship and youth risk factors, equipment purchases, nutritional education sessions and other needs to assist with the Healthy Kids program.

Donations to the Heart Fund help pay for medications, gas for transportation to treatments and lifesaving devices and cover co-pays for heart patients who are going through financial hardships.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Johnston County and No. 2 in the state of North Carolina,” said Halliburton. “Heart blockage, heart attack or stroke happen unexpectedly and usually is very expensive. The Heart Fund was created to provide assistance to patients with financial challenges and have to undergo cardiac procedures and rehabilitation.”

Last year’s races raised $32,000. Totals for this year’s races weren’t available at press time.

Saturday’s Champions Run attracted 519 registered participants, in spite of the weather.

“We were so blessed that the rain held long enough for us to set up and complete the race and award ceremonies from 6 to 11:30 a.m.,” said Halliburton. “It literally rained before and after those times.”

Halliburton explained what the races mean both to Johnston Health and the community.

“We invited all residents in Johnston County and neighboring communities to be a part of our efforts to promote and build a healthier community. This event was open to advanced and beginner runners and walkers,” said Halliburton. “ Teams were formed by families, churches, clubs and company employees. Participants had the opportunity to walk or run in honor of or as a tribute to a loved one. This was a timed event with awards given to the top three runners in each age division, and was definitely a fun experience for all.”

Participating groups also won special awards. Johnston Health’s “Straight Outta the OR” team was honored for best team name; Zoe was named the cutest dog; United Community Bank won the largest team award with 64 registered participants; and the Heart and Soles team earned the Champions Spirit Award.