"But those hills are very small in comparison to some of the hardships children face every day in this state," said Stephanie McCart, executive director of the U.S. 10K Classic.
On Monday, 13,000 people will tackle Cobb Parkway for the 16th annual U.S. 10K Classic, a 6.2-mile race that begins close to the Galleria and finishes near White Water. The race benefits the World Children's Center, a planned community for up to 800 homeless, orphaned or neglected children from the state, country and around the world.
Donald Whitney, founder of the U.S. 10K Classic and World's Children Center, said one home has already built on the 710-acre property in Haralson County.
"What we're working on right now is the completion of two more homes and a school building. Once those are complete, we will open the first neighborhood to the community," he said. "We are doing our very best to try to open by next fall, but I've got to get the homes completed."
When finished, the World's Children Center will be comprised of seven neighborhoods with 100 homes, parks and playgrounds, sports facility, medical care center and other amenities. The $300 million, 15-year project will provide a stable home for abused and neglected children through surrogate parents and a safe haven. Surrogate parents will be provided with a salary and house in exchange for raising up to six orphan children plus two of their own, Whitney said.
"There are over 150 million orphan children under the age of 12 worldwide, that as a human being I feel I have a responsibility to," he said. "The World Children's Center will serve children first and foremost from the community, then the state, southeast, country and world. Our purpose and guiding principle is to serve children who fit our model that are suffering or need assistance."
To date, close to $7 million has been raised for the World's Children Center. The lion's share of the money has gone to support the purchase of the property, construction, infrastructure, engineering and land studies, said Diane Kaseta, senior director for World's Children Center.
Added Whitney, "There is no debt in our organization. We have paid cash for everything we have done."
The U.S. 10K Classic has given $2.1 million over the last 15 years to local children's charities. Over $350,000 in cash has also been donated to MUST Ministries, Whitney said.
"It was very important to me to contribute money to local charities as well. When I first started the race, I could have let the money sit in a bank account. But, I really wanted to help out the community and the children. That's what being philanthropic is all about," he said.
Monday's race will include Olympians, professional men and women cyclists, runners, walkers, in-line skaters, wheelchair athletes and Nordic Pole walkers.
"It is with great enthusiasm that we look forward to this weekend's event. Everyone who participates is helping to support the construction of our next homes. Race participants are making an impact to serve children who are in the greatest needs, and giving us the ability to afford a better life for the children," said Kaseta.
The U.S. 10K Classic also has a kid's race for children under age 11. The kid's race will be held Saturday during the family festival at the Galleria Gardens. The family festival, or race expo, is being held Saturday and Sunday at the Gardens, which is adjacent to the Waverly Hotel.
Residents still wishing to sign up for the U.S. 10K Classic can only do so during this weekend's expo, which will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no race day registration.
The main race in the U.S. 10K Classic begins at 7:45 a.m. Cobb Parkway will be shut down at 6:45 a.m., and prior to the race's start, the national anthem will play to the dissent of a Special Forces Association parachute team.
For more information on the U.S. 10K Classic, go to www.us10k.org.