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YMCA holds 23rd annual Cheerios Challenge
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As the year shifts to mid-April, citizens of Covington can typically expect a number of Spring annual events to return. 

This year was no exception. 

Several runners from across the State of Georgia traveled to Newton County to participate in the 23rd annual YMCA Cheerios Challenge.

While the event tends to bring out hundreds of runners each year, the bar was raised significantly this time around, as 1,112 runners participated in the event.

Four races were contested, starting with the one-mile fun run event at 8 a.m. Runners then lined up at 8:30 a.m. to kick off the 5K and 10K races, which spanned throughout Covington. The Trix Tot-Trot then commenced at Legion Field shortly thereafter at 9:30 a.m.

An awards ceremony at the conclusion of the 5K honored the top runners at Legion Field.

Winning this year’s fun run was 12-year-old Olin Capes (7:16), with second place Liam Goodwin (8:53), third place Jabari Smith (09:04), fourth place Kaison Joyner (09:09) and fifth place Ethan Badillo (09:12) rounding out the top five.

Taking the gold in the 5K was Brian Gallardo with a time of 18:12. Second through fifth place were Levi Kingsley (20:51), Jacob Thomason (21:40), Alexis Vieyra (22:08.8) and Drew McIntyre (22:08.9).

In the 10k event, 17-year-old Andrew Yankowksky won the race in dominating fashion by posting a time of 39:43. Six minutes later saw the next finisher, Colton Wright (45:55), finish in second with Jaquez Barron (46:00), Randy Ballew (46:12) and Chad Nowlin (46:21) finishing in third, fourth and fifth respectively.

But while friendly competition is encouraged, the philanthropy nature of the event is all the more greater.

Executive director Louly Hay-Kapp said the event is all about inclusion for kids looking to participate in athletics that otherwise may not be able to.

“This event raises money for the YMCA's annual ‘Why It Matters Fund’ that allows children and families to participate in YMCA programs who otherwise would be unable,” Hay-Kapp said.  “No one is ever turned away due to an inability to pay.”

According to the Cheerios Challenge event tab on Race Roster, the event raised money “to help ensure that every child can participate” in programs offered by the YMCA such as team sports, swimming lessons and summer day camp.

While the exact amount is not known yet,  Hay-Kapp said YMCA met its goal of $185,000 in fundraising for the event, continuing to be the largest fundraiser for the “Why It Matters Fund.”

Hay-Kapp said that this event continues to be special year after year due to the community engagement it brings for a common cause.

“The Y brings together all different types of people from all different backgrounds,” Hay-Kapp said. “This community event celebrates health, wellness and community support.”

More photos from the event can be viewed here.