Nancy Collins had practically given up running after her daughter was born two years ago. But she was back on a chilly Sunday morning, trying to warm up for a 10-kilometer road race.
But this run yesterday meant more to Collins then simply keeping in shape. The money from entry fees will be donated to help children suffering from Down's syndrome -- and that will help her daughter Megan.
"This is great. It brought tears to my eyes," said Collins, who drove to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport from Sparks. "It was a long drive, but there are a lot of people here to give support."
In all, 1,400 people showed at Westinghouse, located at BWI, to either run or walk in the fifth annual race to benefit the Kennedy Institute Down's Syndrome Clinic. More than half ran in the 10K race; other events included a 3K relay race and a 3K walk. The fees were $10 for 10K runners, $5 for 3K walkers and $45 for each 3-person corporate team The runners found themselves on a twisting course that had them vying for position on roads, driveways, parking lots, an airport taxiway and paths behind Westinghouse and BWI.
"The difference is that this is the one race where the total dollars raised go to Down's syndrome causes in this state," Race Director Wayne Malone told the crowd before the start of the 10K race. "I have a child with Down's Syndrome and he appreciates your support.
Malone, who works as an engineer at Westinghouse, said he got involved in the race during its inception five years ago when a vice president at the company was looking for a cause. He chose Down's syndrome.
That first year, Malone said 190 people participated; the following year they were up to 600. Through last year, the race raised $28,000. This year the effort should net $15,000, Malone said.
But more than money, Malone said he is trying to push awareness of Down's syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by moderate to severe mental retardation.
"It's great to see all the people here," said Al Shearn from Ellicott City. It's not so much the money that it raises, but the awareness." Shearn's daughter, 21-year-old Emily, has cerebral palsy, not Down's syndrome, but Shearn said he was demonstrating a feeling of solidarity by showing to participate in the race.
That feeling was echoed by Nick Hernick, from Bowie, who came to the race with his three daughters, of which 3-year-old Erica has Down's syndrome. "Forty of our neighbors and friends came here," he said.
Even the two-time winner of the race, Dave Berardi from Catonsville, said it is fun to run to help out the kids. "It is a tremendous cause," he said. "I needed a good hard race and a workout," Berardi said, adding that he had done poorly last weekend in a race in New Haven, Conn. "I wanted to justify myself."