Every step on the 350-mile Run for the Reason journey was for a greater cause.
Georgia Power’s 22nd annual Run for the Reason trip ended Friday morning in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island.
A team of Georgia Power employees completed the more than two-day run from Atlanta and were greeted with fanfare on St. Simons. The team outran the stormy weather that would hit just a couple hours later.
The initiative aims to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer, and nearly all proceeds raised are donated to the American Cancer Society, said Jimmy Zerkus, a project manager for Georgia Power Company and co-chair for the run. The fundraising goal was $100,000.
The runners receive pledges from family, friends and others who support the effort.
“We’ll take them as small or big as they want to give us,” said Zerkus, who did not seem at all out of breath immediately after the multi-hundred mile run.
The runners were broken into three teams that would run in shifts. Others drove vehicles and made arrangements with hotels for overnight stays.
“There are six runners on each team, and we carry a baton. Every runner runs for 40 minutes, and when your’e finished with your 40, you hand off,” Zerkus said.
The team left Atlanta at 10 a.m. Wednesday and arrived on St. Simons at about 11:30 a.m. Friday.
“We were a little over two hours ahead of schedule,” Zerkus said.
They moved at a quick pace during the last leg of the run in Glynn County, crossing the F.J. Torras Causeway, making their way down Kings Way and coming to an exuberant stop in front of Barbara Jean’s on Mallery Street.
The run has taken place for 22 years. The original idea came from the 1996 Olympic torch relay. Zerkus said he saw the potential there for a fundraising opportunity. Choosing to raise money for the American Cancer Society was an easy next decision.
“You can’t find anybody that doesn’t have a family member, a friend, a co-worker that hasn’t battled with cancer,” he said. “It became almost a logical choice.”
They kept a low profile the first year, testing out the feasibility of running across the entire state in just a few days.
“The very first year, we only raised about $13,000, but we didn’t go out and advertise it much because we weren’t sure we could pull it off,” he said.
But the team of runners made it, just as they’ve done every year since. They’ve raised millions of dollars so far for the cause. And Georgia Power has supported the fundraiser every step of the way, Zerkus said.
The runners drew some attention on the island Friday. But that’s kind of the whole point, Zerkus said.
“It’s about the education, the awareness, getting people to do their screenings,” he said. “When you diagnose cancer early, the survival rates are much better. So it’s all about awareness, getting your screenings, being on the right schedule. It really helps.”