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Posted: April 4, 2010 12:01 a.m.

Covington YMCA to host a Cheerios Challenge for children

By Anthony Banks/

When one of the community’s largest non-profit organizations partners with one of the county’s largest industries, you know it’s a big deal. And 2010’s 9th annual Cheerios Challenge figures to be the biggest yet, maybe even topping 1,000 runners and volunteers.

The Cheerios Challenge is the Covington Family YMCA’s largest, and only, annual public fundraiser and brings in about $4,500 for the Partner with Youth fund. The Y’s signature fund is what allows it to offer memberships to families that couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in the Y’s programs. More than 650 children participate in youth programs every year.

The Cheerios Challenge is comprised of three road races, a one-mile fun run, a 5K race and 10K race. The event will be held Saturday, April 17, starting at 7 a.m., and everyone is invited. Registration forms can be picked up at the Y, located at 2140 Newton Drive, Covington, or printed off the Y’s Web site at cvy.ymcaatlanta.org. Registration prices vary depending on which races people participate in, but start as low as $15.

The 10K race starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 1 mile fun run at 9 a.m. and the capped off by the 5K race at 9:30 a.m. All races start and end at the Y. Awards are given for the winners in several different age groups as well as overall time winners for men and women. A $100 cash prize will be given to the male and/or male who manages to break course records in the 5K and 10K races.

In addition, a new group is being created, the YMCA member group. Interim Executive Director Louly Hay-Kapp said she is pushing to get as many members to participate as possible.

The Cheerios Challenge is, predictably, named after the signature food of Covington’s signature industry: General Mills. The company recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and employs more than 400 people, many of whom volunteer at the Cheerios Challenge.

In addition, several other local businesses donate time and money to the event including Advantage Fire, BB&T Bank, The Covington Police Department, Longhorn Steakhouse of Covington and Sunbelt Builders.

The road races have been known as the Cheerios Challenge for the past three years, but grew out of the Y’s nationally-celebrated Healthy Kids Day. The first event held in 2001, involved only 45 kids who participated in a 1-mile fun run.

Over the years the event has grown by leaps and bounds, expanding to include the 5K race, and eventually the 10K race, and 720 walkers and runners came out last April. Also, more than 80 volunteers helped make the event run smoothly. The CPD, which hosts its annual Fuzz Run in September, was instrumental in helping the Y ramp up their annual event.

For full results of last year’s race and previous year’s races go to runningintheusa.com and search for "Cheerios Challenge." Last year, local residents placed very well, including capturing three of the top six overall winners. Travis Knight, a 19-year-old from Oxford, captured the top spot in the 5K race, while 37-year old Eric John of Covington placed second in both the 5K and 10K races.

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