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2018 Human Race in Santa Rosa on track to raise $300,000 for nonprofit groups

Almost seven months ago, a local greyhound rescue group lost a van and all cash from its largest annual fundraiser to the Tubbs fire. On Saturday, with community support rallied through the 2018 Human Race, Greyhound Friends for Life was able to recoup its fire losses, raising $15,000.

A mellow pack of 20 greyhounds - ex-race dogs rescued by the group - was decked out in tiny yellow hard hats for the occasion as part of the nonprofit’s campaign “Rebuilding Together.”

The group was among ?200 nonprofits that benefited Saturday from the 3K and 10K run and walk through Howarth and Spring Lake parks.

A few thousand people of all ages and athletic abilities crossed the finish line at Slater Middle School, a smaller crowd than in years past. The threat of rain and the draw of Petaluma’s Butter and Egg Days, also taking place Saturday morning, were both factors, organizers said.

The fundraising goal for the popular race, Sonoma County’s largest public fundraising event and the largest of its type across the nation, was $300,000, down from $500,000 last year.

By race day, more than $249,000 of the tally had already been donated, $50,000 more than last year, said Cami Kahl, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which puts on the event.

“The big ask was to give as much as you can to nonprofits that provided services during the fires,” Kahl said.

The greyhounds group wasn’t squarely in that category, but it was nonetheless one of the big heartwarming stories to emerge from this year’s event, Kahl said.

On Oct. 8, the Santa Rosa- based nonprofit, which rescues greyhounds from racetracks worldwide, held its annual barbecue and auction fundraiser. That night their van was destroyed by the Tubbs fire, Kahl said. Inside was more than $5,000 in cash from the barbecue.

“We lost everything,” Theresa Pearson, a Greyhound Friends for Life volunteer from Napa County said Saturday at a table set up alongside dozens of other of local groups and businesses at Slater Middle School, where the races finished.

Another group in the event field included the Expeditionary Learning program from Lawrence E. Jones Middle School in Rohnert Park.

The students have trips planned to Mount Lassen and Yosemite national parks, but they planned to give the $1,600 they made from bake sales to a nonprofit helping fire victims, said Janet Alexander a parent and president of Expeditionary Learning’s board.

For the first time in its 37-year history, the Human Race ditched a standard offering of footraces - the timing clock - to promote the participatory and philanthropic character of the event.

“We changed our focus to a community walk-and-run,” Kahl said, adding that the change was not necessarily permanent.

In the 10K field, Santa Rosa resident Annie Bacon pushed her 3-year-old son, Santiago Bacon Gonzalez, in a running stroller. It was her 10th year running the race, the fourth year with Santiago.

“I like running with people and this has a great community feeling,” Bacon said.

And, like so many others who make the race an annual commitment, she plans to be back next year. “There’s a lot of good nonprofits to support,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or nick.rahaim@pressdemocrat.com. ?On Twitter @nrahaim.

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