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Cheerios Challenge raises money for Newton families experiencing financial hardship
Runners take off from the starting line during a past Cheerios Challenge event in Covington. To raise funds for families experiencing financial hardships, the YMCA event was started in 2001. - photo by Special to The News

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Covington YMCA will hold the 21st annual Cheerios Challenge on National YMCA Healthy Kids Day, April 30. 

The Challenge, which was first started in 2001, consists of 1 mile, 5K and 10K races, as well as a 50-yard dash for children 5 and under.

Proceeds generated from the event will go towards the YMCA’s Annual Campaign, which funds families and children experiencing financial hardship’s participation in the program’s youth sports, childcare and summer swim programs, as well as memberships, according to YMCA Executive Director Louly Hay-Kapp.

“No one is ever turned away from the Y because of an inability to pay, so we fundraise in this community every year to help subsidize people who use the Y,” Hay-Kapp said.

The race typically draws up to 14,000 people. 

Last year, the YMCA held the event in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic and drew 650 participants, a notably lower number than usual which Hay-Kapp attributed to concern over the spread of the virus.

Despite the lower turnout, Hay-Kapp said that “it was such a great day.”

“I think people were even more grateful, having come out of COVID, to the Y for offering this opportunity to get out and do something as a community and support a good cause,” Hay-Kapp said.

Additionally, Hay-Kapp said that fundraising efforts were not impacted by the lower turnout rates. The race raised around $165,000 last year for the Annual Campaign. This year, Hay-Kapp said that the YMCA hopes to raise around $175,000.

“Lots of companies and community members support this despite the difficult times,” Hay-Kapp said. “In fact, [fundraising] came on stronger to help residents, so we’re incredibly grateful.”

The 1 mile fun run begins at 8 a.m., the 10K and 5K races begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Trix Tot Trot starts at 9:30 a.m. Race packet pickup will be held at the YMCA on April 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All races will start in front of the YMCA building on Newton Drive and finish at Legion Field.

Prizes will be awarded for the first place, second place and third place male and female finishers.

Additionally, a cash prize of $100 will be awarded if a course record is broken. Current course records include a 14:48 male 5K record, 17:15 female 5K record, 31:16 male 10K record and 36:20 female 10K record. All children running the 1 mile fun run will receive a ribbon.

After the race, runners can enjoy a festival at Legion Field, featuring music by The Strat Cats Band and a variety of vendors giving away goodies and food. Additionally, there will be face painting and inflatables for children.

People interested in signing up for the race can register at or sign up on race day at the start line. Registration fees for the 5K and 10K races are $25, $17 for the 1 mile run and $5 for the Trix Tot Trot. Families can also purchase a pack of four race entries in any race for $60.

“I encourage people to come out,” Hay-Kapp said. “I would just say how grateful we are for the community support of the Y and the work that we do, the outreach that we do in this community.”