As the morning fog lifted, making way for cool Saturday sunshine, tutu-clad runners streamed into Fowler Park toward the sound of a booming DJ.
Though it was early, mothers and fathers followed their eager children — at least one of whom was less than a year old — across the dewy grass as older adults, ready in their spandex running shorts, stretched before their various runs, a calm sense of determination about them.
The event, the Jesse’s House Fairytale Dash, saw its largest turnout yet on Saturday, with more than 300 runners registered for the organization’s “fun run,” 5K and 10K races, which raised about $30,000 for the nonprofit, according to Executive Director Karen Carroll.
“It [was] great,” she said. “It’s been packed and we’ve had a lot of support, which is fantastic. We have some more ideas for next year but we are excited to continue to offer this run, [which] is our largest fundraiser of the year.”
Jesse’s House, an emergency shelter for youth aged 7 to 17 who have been removed from their parents’ care due to abuse or neglect, provides children and teens in its care a “loving, caring, nurturing environment and all the things they may need to thrive,” Carroll said.
The Fairytale Dash serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations and is an event many look forward to annually.
Eleven-year-old Kamryn Taylor, who placed first in her age group for the 5K, said though this was her first time participating in the event, she plans on coming back in future years.
“I loved it,” she said. “I got my goal — 25 minutes — and [the course] was nice and flat.”
“The weather was beautiful, and it’s for a good cause, too,” added her father, Mark Taylor.
Cumming resident Pat Cochran, who placed first in the 60 and up age group, said she had more to celebrate than just winning her group’s 5K.
“I’m 74 and this is the third 5K that I’ve run,” she said. “It’s really good and it gets you out and incrementally trains you, a little bit at a time. My sister [asked] why [I do this,] because I hate running, and it’s because I can. I’ve never run before, but I won’t do it when I can’t, so why not [now?]”
Cochran wasn’t the only one to take Saturday’s opportunity to get outside, though.
A little lion, less than a year old, was tame as his mother and father — a scarecrow and tin man — passed him around to other costume-clad runners.
Attendees were encouraged to dress up to the race to help save the Jesse’s House “princesses in distress” — the girls who are aided by the shelter, and dress up they did.
Flitting around in glittery garb, a group of fairies giggled as they applied more lipstick, overflowing with excitement.
They mirrored Carroll’s enthusiasm: the day had been a success.