The 22nd annual St. Barnabas Medical Center 5K Run/Walk on Saturday is expected to attract up to 1,000 walkers and runners -- many of them from the same families.
Among elite runners, mall walkers, wheelchair competitors, children and great grandparents will be the English family of Pine, who is making the race a summer tradition.
Michelle English, 45, will run with her husband Joe, 48; their 12-year-old son, Jackson; and 10-year-old daughter, Maggie. Their 16-year-old son, Joe, will walk with his 82-year-old grandmother, Eleanor English.
"Last year, Grandma was the last one in, but that's fine, because her goal was just to finish," Michelle English said. "She's looking forward to doing it again this year."
Joe can claim volunteer hours required by his school's football program by helping his grandma, a resident of St. Barnabas, walk the course.
The race, which begins at 9 a.m. at the medical center in Richland, raises money for the St. Barnabas Free Care Fund.
The event attracts all ages.
"There are plenty of 80-year-olds, and some of those old guys actually run the course," Michelle English said, adding that it also is common to see parents running the race with babies in strollers.
"The race is so well-organized, and they make it such a pleasant experience. Where else can you find three generations doing a physical activity together? Our family makes this race a priority."
Kerry Lowe, 38, with her husband David, 41, of Pine, will run the race for the first time with their son, Mitchell, 17, and daughter, Emillee, 16.
"We're not runners, but this is a good way to not only contribute to a cause, but to get exercise and do something as a family," Mrs. Lowe said.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, the family came to the U.S. two years ago.
"When we left Australia, we left our entire family and our friends," Mrs. Lowe said, noting that events like this help the family make new social connections.
"Signing up is a commitment, and the race is a great way to be outdoors and around a fun group of people and find out what's going on in the community."
Race coordinator Anthony R. Savannah said this year's goal is to register more than 1,000 participants and surpass last year's total of 900.
"The community has embraced this event," Mr. Savannah said, noting that Meridian Road residents hand out water to the runners, and more than 100 volunteers in and around the St. Barnabas community help with the race.
"There's something for everyone and every age, including our great post-race party that we call the best in the 'Burgh."
The first race was held in 1992, when Valerie Day Wilden, president of St. Barnabas Charities and assistant vice president of St. Barnabas Health System, came up with the 5K as a way to promote St. Barnabas Medical Center.
"We wanted the community to know that our medical center is for them; it's like a medical mall.
We wanted to bring young families to the property to meet our doctors," she recounted, adding that the idea came from one of her co-workers, a former Pittsburgh Marathon worker.
Mr. Savannah said the race includes events such as a team competition, the Presents for Patients Jingle Bell Christmas Costume run, elite runners' frontline preference and the new 5K My Way, which lets senior citizens walk as much of the race as they want to and finish when they feel like it.
New this year is the Patriot Team division, which recognizes current military members, veterans and first responders.
The event starts at 9 a.m. at St. Barnabas Medical Center, 5830 Meridian Road.
Registration fee is $20. Participants can register in advance or on race day.
Registration information: www.stbarnabashealthsystem.com/stbarnabas5k/.
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: email@example.com.