Big Red Shoe

Participants pass under the American flag during the Big Red Shoe fun run in 2017 to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, which provides care to families of seriously ill children. GLOBE FILE

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States is gearing up for its 10th annual Big Red Shoe event Saturday, when more than 200 runners from 28 communities will be participating.

Packet pickup begins at 6:30 a.m. the day of the event. Registration the day of the event must be completed between 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. The 800-meter race for children costs $20, the 1-mile walk costs $25, and the 5K costs $35. The event is for runners and walkers alike.

The 800-meter race will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday. The 5K will begin at 8:20 a.m., followed by the 1-mile walk at 8:25 a.m. The start and finish lines are at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, located at 3402 S. Jackson Ave. in Joplin.

Opening ceremonies begin at 7:50 a.m. This year’s race is presented by TAMKO Building Products.

“Every consecutive year, we try to incorporate something different than every other race in the area,” said Annette Thurston, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States. “We’ve gone from having a 15K that people have looked forward to, and one year, we did a relay. We offered a 10K when there wasn’t one offered in the area. This year, we’re incorporating an 800-meter race for kids.”

Since 2013, the annual Big Red Shoe event has raised over $261,000 to support families who have seriously ill children. The local charity organization operates the Ronald McDonald House, which acts as a home away from home for families and ill expectant mothers. The house serves more than 200 families annually.

The charity also operates the Ronald McDonald Family Room on the sixth floor of Mercy Hospital Joplin for family members of pediatric or neonatal intensive care unit patients who need a homelike setting while in the hospital.

Thurston said they didn’t set a goal of how much they hope to raise this year, but in the past, the proceeds of a race have helped operate the house for a month. Families are asked for a $10 nightly contribution but are never turned away based on the inability to pay.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds stay here to operate the house and the family room,” Thurston said. “It’s one of three fundraising events that the charity sponsors. This includes the golf tournament, the Big Red Shoe run and our Gift of Light, Gift of Love. We set a record one year with over 400 volunteers. The community support is huge.”

Emily Gibson, senior executive assistant with Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, said it’s heartwarming to see past families, runners and volunteers who return for the annual event.

“Our volunteers play such a big role in the event,” she said. “The Joplin Police Department will be here to monitor the routes, and we’re grateful for them. The Joplin Amateur Radio Club operators also help monitor the routes. TAMKO is our presenting sponsor this year, and they’ve been with us since almost the very beginning.”

Registration can be completed at https://rmh or in person at 3402 S. Jackson Ave.

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