Lights of Love 5K Breaks Records for Children and Their Families

Caleb's Army Keri Bellacosa Lights of Love 5K

Keri Bellacosa interviews Caleb from Caleb’s Army, the top fundraising team this year

As night fell on December 7th, 3,500 people gathered in and around the Mueller Hangar off Airport Blvd. They had one thing in common: they were all there to support one extremely worthwhile cause here in Austin. Age didn’t matter; heart did.

Costumes, lights and good spirits abounded as the stage was set for the 5th annual Lights of Love 5K. This is one of the major fundraising initiatives that keeps the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin open and active throughout the year.

Communications Manager Jan Gunter asked us to share in the night’s excitement by live tweeting the event. At the Austinot, we love the mission of the Ronald McDonald House and readily agreed to come out and show our support in any way we could!

Holiday Spirits Were High at the Lights of Love 5K in Austin

Holiday Craft Table Lights of Love 5K

Holiday craft table for kids

As we entered the hangar, past the food and race team tents, we were thrilled to see so many people in the holiday spirit. Costumes ranged from one team sporting reindeer antlers to another fully decked out in striped stockings, neon tutus and Santa hats. Hot chocolate and coffee were in hand, and a massive cake from Bountiful Bakery was on site for the post-race celebration.

Fox 7 News anchor Keri Bellacosa was the emcee for the evening, a fireball of energy who worked tirelessly from the stage. Beyond making the standard announcements, Keri took the time to personalize the event and share the stories of people who have been impacted by the services of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin. Keri’s touching interviews with these families and their little ones highlighted the real reason that we had all gathered together.

Santa walked by and gave me a wink as I settled into my spot in the Mueller Hangar to begin live tweeting the event. Using the hashtag #RMHC5K, a team of live tweeters joined us in our efforts to get the word out to the Twittosphere about the festivities.

View From the Starting Line

Ronald McDonald Stretching for Lights of Love 5K

Ronald McDonald leads stretches before the Family Fun Run

While I covered the action in the Hangar, Austinot Brittany joined the crowd at the starting line for the Family Fun Run, an event designed for families to participate in together. Ronald McDonald himself was at the starting line, leading the excited participants in stretching exercises!

Once the Family Fun Run had concluded, the Lights of Love 5K began. The Mueller Hangar, which had been bustling with activity just moments earlier, emptied out almost instantly. Everyone had gone to witness the start of the 5K. A wide variety of runners approached the starting line. Professional and casual runners from all age ranges awaited the official start.

Kent Burress Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin

RMHC Executive Director Kent Burress introduces the Lights of Love 5K

And then they were off…

Lights of Love 5K in Austin

Lights of Love 5K 2012 Results

As I wrote this article, I scoured the Internet to find the results of the race. Who won? The competitive spirit in me wanted to know.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, that which is plainly obvious to everyone else: the winners of the race are the families and children who directly benefit from the services that the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin provides. We’re excited to report that this was a record-breaking year for Lights of Love. Nearly $245,000 has been raised so far, the most ever, and 3,500 participants pitched in to help – also a record!

Sure, the runners who finished at the top are to be commended, but even they would probably point to the cause and say, “There’s your winner.” Bravo to all of the runners and volunteers for this year’s event, and a big thank you to all of this year’s sponsors.

You have all made a difference that is truly tangible here in Austin.

Merry Christmas. -Eric and Brittany

  • RMHC Austin

    Eric and Brittany – you are absolutely right that the winners are the families!! That is the essence of this fabulous event, and you nailed it on the head! It was fun to be with you two at the Lights of Love 5K, and we so appreciate your sharing our story with your savvy readers. Thanks for live tweeting, having a good time and helping us support families with hospitalized children. You two are the best!