Almost seven years ago Kelley Norris and Mary Covington Coleman decided to run in the Augusta University half marathon. Their inspiration was a little girl named Frances “Frannie” Brown.
Now a nonprofit charity, “Friends of Frances,” has the largest amount of runners on its team than any other charity.
“This year is our seventh year,” said Norris, a Pediatric Pharmacy Critical Care Specialist and the Pediatric Pharmacy Team Supervisor at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “Last year, I officially got 501(c)(3) status, so I’m officially a nonprofit, and this year I have over 70 people running.”
The Augusta University Half Marathon 10K and 5K is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Presented by the Augusta Sports Council, the marathon is an opportunity for locals and visiting athletes to get a tour of the most iconic parts of Augusta.
“Friends of Frances” works to spread awareness about children with special needs, including the adversity they face on a daily basis. According to their web page, all of the money raised by the organization goes towards the purchase of adaptive equipment for children with special needs or for the provision of specialized therapy for physical development.
Ultimately, “Friends of Frances” works to help make the lives of children with disabilities in the CSRA a little less challenging.
Frances Brown, 11, was diagnosed with rare macrocephaly-capillary malformation (M-CM) at four months, an overgrowth syndrome that has required her to have numerous surgeries, one which recently left her confined to a wheelchair.
Inspired by Frances’s strength in overcoming major challenges with everyday life, Norris ran that first half-marathon and started to share her story with the community, spreading awareness for children like Frances and working to bring adaptive equipment for children with special needs.
With February being Rare Disease Month, “Friends of Frances” celebrates the differences of people and spreads awareness for others to do the same.
“We like to provide equipment, and we provide scholarships for therapies that children will enjoy,” Norris said. “Things that they’ll remember.”
For more information about the race, visit the Augusta University Half Marathon site.