Participants braved the cold for the second annual Freezin’ for a Reason race at the Bill Stephens Soccer/Track Complex on Feb. 1.
Amanda Mulhearn, 33 of Conway, shared the significance of the charity event, which benefits Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
The Mulhearn family lost two daughters – infant Charlotte and two-year-old Stella – to different medical conditions. Both were treated at ACH as they fought their illnesses.
“Charlotte had a viral infection of the heart and Stella had brain cancer,” she said. “About a year and a half ago we decided to start this race.”
The Faulkner County Circle of Friends started the event in memory of the two Mulhearn daughters.
About $28,800 was raised this year for ACH, according to the Freezin’ for a Reason website. Racers had the option of competing in a 10K, 5K or Family 2K Run race.
“Our family will continue to put ACH at the top of our priority list, just as they did our daughters,” Mulhearn wrote in a letter to the ACH Foundation community. “I want to give back to the people who have given so much to us.”
Mulhearn said the event will return next year in Conway and she has high hopes to raise even more money for a cause that means so much to her.
“We hoped to get maybe a couple hundred people out and we had 1,000 and hoped to raise a little money and raised $30,000 [during the first year],” she said.
Volunteers from UCA organizations such as the track team, soccer team, Omega Psi Phi and Real Beauty helped provide food and cheered on participants as they crossed the finish line.
Race Director Mary Spears-Polk said the race brought in fewer people this year but that she wasn’t discouraged.
“We are very happy that UCA could accommodate us,” she said.
More than 349,000 patients visited ACH, 13,371 of them from Faulkner County, in 2013, according to an ACH press release.
Mulhearn said she was thrilled with the turnout and support from the UCA community this year.
The original race location at Conway High School was changed due to construction work at the school’s football stadium. Freezin’ for a Reason’s race committee looked into other options nearby and found UCA to be the right fit.
“My sister, brother and I all attended school here and played soccer here, so the support of the volunteers and school is overwhelming,” she said.
Mulhearn said she has a recurring favorite moment from both years of the race.
“It’s seeing the little girls that were in Stella’s class [at Early Childhood Care at First Methodist Church]and they’ve got a special tag with her name on it,” she said. “It’s seeing those girls age and thinking, ‘That’s where my daughter would be.’ Seeing that people are still connected to her warms my heart.”
Nathan Thomas, 33 of Conway, finished with a time of 41:56 and won first place in the men’s division of the 10K race.
“I’ve got a one year old at the house, so I know I would want that support if anything ever happened to her,” he said.
Sophomore Jordan Moore‘s sister stayed at ACH for two weeks as she faced a daunting medical battle.
“My sister… had chronic kidney disease,” she said. “I heard [about the race]and me and my mom always try anything we can do to support Arkansas Children’s Hospital.”
Junior Stephanie Thomas, Sigma Kappa member, was one of the volunteers who cheered on racers and said a few moment’s stood out to her as the race continued, including a little Batman and dog who crossed the finish line at different times.
Graduate student Asia McGhee, Academic Mentorship Program (AMP) volunteer, served hot cocoa for the event.
McGhee was one of many volunteers who offered food to race participants and cheered them on as they completed either the 10K, 5K or 2K race.
“Anytime you hear about a death it moves you,” she said. “It meant a lot and I wanted to support.”
Prior to the race, First United Methodist Church in Conway hosted a Pasta Party on Jan. 31 for ACH.
To donate to ACH in Stella and Charlotte’s memory, visit giving.archildrens.org.