Jo Beth Southard of Decatur spends much of the year training and competing in triathlons and other races across the region and country.
But nothing gives the recent national champion in the olympic distance triathlon as much joy as the hometown race she’s put on the past three years in honor of her daughter Sarah.
“There’s no comparison,” Southard said. “It means so much to me to have the people come out and support us. It doesn’t compare what it means to me.”
Runners will be back pounding the pavement through the streets of downtown Decatur Saturday morning in the fourth annual Sarah’s Cure 5K. The event starts with the kid’s K at 8 a.m. The 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m.
It’s part of a day-long event to raise money for galactosemia research. There is a concert and silent auction starting at 6 p.m. at the Decatur Civic Center.
Southard’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with galactosemia shortly after birth. The disease is often confused as a milk allergy or intolerance, when indeed it is a life-long genetic disorder that affects only one in 80,000. Some of the possible side effects are enlarged liver, kidney failure, cataracts and brain damage.
“A majority of the money raised is for research and some for our national foundation’s conferences,” Southard said. “Maybe one day we can find a cure. Another goal is to get the word out and create more awareness.”
Each year, the race has grown. This year, Southard has 75 runners currently pre-registered, which is well ahead of last year. She is anticipating more than 200 for the chip-timed race.
“We’re hoping for that good of a turnout,” Southard said. “People come out, enjoy it and want to help. They also have a good time doing it, which is important to me.
“I went into this with no race-director experience. It’s been pretty fun. The whole event has been very rewarding to Mark and I, and having so many people help.”
Registration will continue Saturday morning beginning at 7 a.m.