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Second Chocolate Run exceeds expectations
Near the starting line at Saturday's Chocolate Run 5K, Lakeisha Hall cheers on members of the local chapter of Black Girls Run, a national organization that encourages African American women to take charge of their physical health.

    Donations are still coming in, and the second Chocolate Run possibly could see around $30,000 raised when the final tally is calculated.
    Early last week, the run had raised around $28,000, said Delia Mobley, the board chairwoman for Open Hearts Community Mission, the organization for which the 5K run/walk was held.
    The mission helps homeless people with immediate needs while also providing them resources to help them “get back on their feet,” according to the Chocolate Run’s website,
    Plans are to build a homeless shelter on property Open Hearts Community Mission owns on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive “across from the old Warehouse building,” Mobley said.
    Almost 500 runners hit the streets Saturday, Feb. 22, starting the race near City Hall in downtown Statesboro and ending on Railroad Street. Participants received a T-shirt and sweet treats.
    The youngest runner was Noah Streetman, 7, of Brooklet, according to the roster found on the website. The most senior runner was Wanda Martoranoi, 72, of Statesboro.
    The fastest time was held by 11-year-old Mason Smith of Collins in Tattnall County, who finished the race in 19:24.8.
    The run was organized by volunteer Jennifer Douglas, to whom Mobley gave the most credit for the event’s sweet success.
    “Our goal amount was $25,000. We had almost reached that in sponsorships alone,” Mobley said. “Friday night was when the signs with the total were made, but Saturday, more money came, and it keeps coming. We may have close to $30,000 by the time it is all over. (I am) overwhelmed and grateful.”
    Participants seemed to enjoy the run, and many posted comments on the Open Hearts Community Mission Facebook page.
    “Great race this year,” said runner Jim Harris. “The weather was fantastic and this was the best run race I have ever seen in Statesboro. It was chip timed, the route was great — there were actually some hills, the mile markers were right on spot with water at the 1 and 2 mile marks, the course is (USA Track & Field) certified and the results were posted immediately after you finished. There was a festival atmosphere before and after the race. It reminded me of the races I run in Atlanta.”
    Mobley said site preparations for the permanent homeless shelter, including cleaning the property, have already begun, and she anticipates the construction will start by midyear.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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