Runners and walkers all over the world helped to raise $13,000 for INAD research as part of the third A Grace-Filled Journey 5K Run and One-Mile Walk, held Saturday, Aug. 31, in Hillsboro.
"We are so honored by the continued love and support in honor of our beautiful daughter, Grace," said Mary Herschelman of Hillsboro. "This is such a special place to call home."
More than 500 participated in this year's event, including about 100 virtual runners and walkers representing more than 30 states in the United States. This year's race also included participants in Australia.
"While we didn't reach our goal of having runners in all 50 states, we did have some really great participation in helping us to raise awareness for INAD," Herschelman said.
This is the third time the event has been held with previous races in 2015 and 2017, in honor of seven-year-old Grace Herschelman of Hillsboro, who was diagnosed with INAD in November 2014.
INAD is an ultra-rare genetic disorder affecting around 100 children worldwide. It creates a loss of nerve function leaving children unable to walk and talk, and most do not live to see their tenth birthday.
The event was started by avid runners John and Emily Galer of Alexandria, VA, aunt and uncle of Grace Herschelman.
At the starting line of this year's event, John Galer said there have been a total of omore than 1,500 participants in all three races, and a total of $60,000 has been raised for INAD research. Proceeds from this year's race will be donated to the INADCure Foundation in honor of Herschelman.
Their donation will continue to support the work of Dr. Paul Kotzbauer at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, who has studied INAD for the past 12 years. Dr. Kotzbauer, along with Lynda Wilmott and Dhruva Dhavale from his lab, attended this year's event. Dr. Kotzbauer thanked the community for its continued support of his work and provided an update on his gene therapy approach to INAD research.
This year's race was officially started by the Ice Queen and the Wayfinder Princess of Brittain's Princess Parties in Litchfield, who also provided meet and greet opportunities with young race participants. Ken Meade Photography provided the backdrop for the princesses.
Other family-friendly activities included snow cones from Sweet Addictions, a petting zoo by the Hillsboro High School FFA, face painting with the Topper Art Club, kids' games with the Hillsboro Area Hospital Junior Board and balloon animals and magic tricks with Professor Longhair. Members of the Hillsboro Breakfast Sertoma Club grilled pork patties and the M&M Multisport Club provided this year's starting line, as well as a $300 donation. Thrivent Financial provided water and fruit for runners and Casey's General Store donated water.
"We are so grateful to all of our sponsors for providing funding for this year's event," said Herschelman. "We couldn't do it without them. INAD is a devastating disease, but we are so grateful to everyone who participated or donated to this year's race in celebration of Grace. It was such a special day for our family, and we love you all."