More than 2,000 runners from across the country took to the streets of Jacksonville on Saturday, January 25, 2020, for the 11th annual Wolfson Children’s Challenge, a day of races and festivities to raise funds for Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville. Wolfson Children’s is the region’s only not-for-profit children’s hospital, serving children of all ages. No child is ever turned away due to inability to pay.
The event, which takes place each year at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, challenges runners to a variety of different races, including the 55K Ultramarathon, 55K Ultra Relay, 30K Individual Run and 1-mile Fun Run.
Nineteen runners tested their endurance in the 55K (34.2-mile) Ultramarathon. The top three overall finishers were Katie Fackler of Jacksonville (4:17:50.39), Kendal Fitzpatrick of Jacksonville (4:44:34.68) and Scott Davis of Ponte Vedra (4:52:37.28). Finishing behind Fackler for female racers were Jamie Saunders of Gainesville (5:16:03.33) and Lauren McMillen of Jacksonville (5:24:19.55). Oliver Nixon of St. Augustine (5:05:22.69) rounded out the top three for male racers.
In the 30K (18.6-mile) Individual Race, Leo Fila of Ponte Vedra took home the top spot for men (2:07:28.51), followed by Jeff Roberts of St. Simons Island, Georgia (2:07:36.25), and Ricky Tippie of St. Johns (2:18:54.17). Beth Boyer of Jacksonville Beach (2:23:43.81), Michelle McCullough of Ponte Vedra Beach (2:40:04.60) and Sally Anne Groomes of Ponte Vedra (2:48:57.77) rounded out the top three for female racers. In total, 35 runners participated in the 30K race.
A whopping 141 teams took part in the 55K Ultra Relay. RPM Express 2.0 (3:12:20.89) placed first among all-male teams, while PRS Racing Team Women (4:18:13.09) placed first for the all-female teams. The top three co-ed teams were: Physwell Fitness & Rehab (4:17:48.85), Complete Focus J&J Vision (4:19:38.78) and Iron Oaks-Frederica (4:21:06.68).
Nearly 500 runners of all ages and skill levels participated in the 1-mile Fun Run.
In addition to the running events, participants and members of the public could enjoy food, drinks, live music and family-friendly activities in the Community Village.
The Wolfson Children’s Challenge honors 55 children each year, representing the wide range of services Wolfson Children’s Hospital offers to children of North Florida, South Georgia and far beyond.
“You can feel the energy and excitement in the air each year at the Wolfson Children’s Challenge, and what you’re really feeling is hope for children and families,” said Michael D. Aubin, FACHE, president of Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “Thanks to our generous sponsors, our volunteers and everyone who donated or ran, this event continues to grow each year. We are grateful for the generosity of this community, which ensures we can continue providing the best care for children for years to come.”
To date, the Wolfson Children’s Challenge has raised more than $4 million for the Wolfson Children's Challenge endowment, helping fund the purchase of life-saving equipment and technology for our most critical patients. This year, the proceeds will be used to convert an existing patient room on the oncology floor of Wolfson Children’s to an MIBG therapy room. This new room, the first of its kind in Florida, gives Wolfson Children’s the ability to offer the newest upfront treatment for children with neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumor of childhood cancer.
MIBG therapy is a radioactive treatment that must be administered to pediatric patients in a special room designed to protect staff, patients and families in surrounding rooms from radiation. During the treatment, patients must be kept isolated in the specialized room for three to five days to prevent radiation exposure to other patients and staff. The Wolfson Children’s Hospital room that is being converted for this purpose already has a separate, adjoining living space to accommodate parents and families. Voice and video communication equipment will be installed in the rooms, allowing families and patients to remain connected.
Services provided at Wolfson Children’s Hospital are provided primarily by pediatric physician specialists with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville, University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (for cardiac surgery services) and Emergency Resources Group.