On May 8 more than 150 people rose early, put on their running shoes and lined up at Harris Road Middle School to run 3.1 miles.
They did it to support a great cause that helps hundreds of children and their families.
Chris and Wendy Hawkins organize the annual Our Boys 5K to raise money for the Batten Disease Support and Research Association. Their two sons, Brandon and Jeremy, were diagnosed with juvenile Batten disease in 2006. Over time, the devastating disorder, which attacks the nervous system, takes away a child's ability to see, think, walk, talk, remember and even swallow. Most patients do not live past their teens or early 20s.
Pam Barnard, another mother of two, was determined to help.
"I trained for the 5K by following the 'Couch to 5K' program. It is a 10-week program, and it really works. I was never a runner, but know how important exercise is," she said. "I have volunteered for various events that help to support BDSRA over the past few years. I have supported the 5K in the past, but never ran in it. So this year I decided to put my mind to it and run."
This 5K was the first run Barnard had participated in; she finished with an impressive time of 34 minutes.
"I would run in my neighborhood a few days a week. It just worked out that the end of my program always put me right in front of the Hawkins house.
"As the weeks went on, running by their house became my motivation," Barnard said. "During the last week of training ... I ran by the house, and Brandon and Jeremy were outside having a water fight with their caregivers. They were both laughing and having a good time.
"So many times when I see those boys, they are smiling and happy. It just amazes me to know that despite all that they are going through, they just make it look so simple."
I asked Chris Hawkins whether any new treatments are in the pipeline.
"We have a couple of very exciting things happening in Batten research. Stem Cells Inc. recently announced a Phase 2 trial for children with infantile and late infantile Batten disease. This trial involves transplanting embryonic stem cells into the brain.
"Also the very first clinical trial to treat (juvenile Batten disease) was approved by the FDA. BDSRA has been asked to fund $400,000 of the $1.1million needed, and we have accomplished that goal," Hawkins said. "We are waiting on the research group's other funding requests to come through to begin the trial.
"There is also very promising work being done on enzyme replacement therapy and gene replacement therapy."
Even though the event has passed, there are still many ways to help children with this terminal disease.
"I would also like to say thank you to everyone who came out and ran, volunteered, walked or just enjoyed themselves," Hawkins said. "We appreciate the support and hope that they will tell one or two people, or more, about this devastating disease."
For more information on the Hawkins family go to ourboysjourney.wordpress.com.