Under top weather conditions — sunshine and a mild breeze — participants competed based on age group and gender, with the winner in each category receiving an award.
Shortly after runners had taken off into the Third Ward district before eventually return to the starting point, the run gave way to a group of walkers.
“It’s a good crowd, a good turnout,” said United Bank President Jim Ogletree.
While a number of people join pretty much every 5K run there is in the community, he said, runners showing up Saturday to support Stepping Stones was especially nice.
“This is a very deserving organization. They couldn’t survive without fund-raisers,” Ogletree said, adding that the local educational center may take over the 5K run next year.
Minutes before the start of the run, Stepping Stones co-founder Bonnie Brown introduced to the crowd Valerie Stover, a Skipstone Academy student who attended Stepping Stones for several years.
As a baby, it was believed Valerie would never be able to walk and would suffer from severe cerebral palsy. Yet about 11 years later, she is not only on her school’s cross country team, but also participated in Saturday’s 5K run.
To Jay Stover, Valerie’s father, the interventions by the local therapy center played an important role in getting Valerie where she is today, suffering only from moderate cerebral palsy and moderate hearing loss.
“We appreciate Stepping Stones and all they do for the community,” Stover said.