On Feb. 26, thousands of runners crossed the finish line at the Augusta University Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, but for 65Roses the race had just begun.
The 65Roses team is a group of individuals who run and raise money to financially assist cystic fibrosis patients cared for at the Augusta University Cystic Fibrosis Center.
All funds raised by 65Roses are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, whose focus is research, and the Cystic Fibrosis-Reaching Out Foundation, which provides financial assistance to cystic fibrosis patients. This assistance may include insurance copays, mortgage payments or gas money. Both foundations fund the Augusta University Cystic Fibrosis Center.
Although the race was on Feb. 26, the team continued to collect donations through the month of March.
One runner, James Mathis, raised $7,295 in donations and in-kind gifts to help cystic fibrosis patients. Mathis participated in the half marathon with his wife in support of their friend’s son who is a patient at Augusta University’s Cystic Fibrosis Center.
“It was an amazing experience,” Mathis said. “I have run many half marathons and 10K races, but never one with a purpose. One of my closest friends has a son who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a few days after birth. My friend goes above and beyond to give back to the community, and I thought this was my opportunity to give back in his honor.”
Mathis’ initial fundraising goal was $2,000, and was surprised when his fundraising efforts resulted in almost three times the original goal.
“It was amazing to see the community come together for strangers,” he said.
A seasoned runner, the half marathon wasn’t as easy a race as Mathis anticipated. Prior to the race he injured his calf and was unable to run for three weeks. At the eighth mile, the injury flared up.
“The one thing that kept me going was the thought of how much this meant to everyone, including me,” Mathis said. “It was not the prettiest race I’ve ever ran, but I finished and it was the most amazing race I’ve ever participated in.”
Mathis is already looking forward to the 2018 Augusta University Half Marathon, 10K and 5K and has set his fundraising goal at $10,000. He hopes to make his fundraiser an annual event.
In 2012, 65Roses participated for the first time in what is now called the Augusta University Half Marathon, 10K and 5K. The team was composed of approximately 25 runners, and together, they raised $15,000. Every year since, the team has raised at least $10,000 through the Augusta half marathon. This year 65Roses raised a total of $13,520.
To learn more about 65Roses, visit the Miles for Cystic Fibrosis 65Roses page, or like 65Roses Augusta on Facebook.