Next Step 5K

The 5K, a Peachtree Road Race and Run and See Georgia Gran Prix qualifier, begins at 8 a.m. with a course around First Baptist Church of Woodstock.

Those looking to make strides for a good cause can line up Oct. 2 at First Baptist Woodstock for the eighth annual Run, Walk or Roll 5K benefitting Next Step Ministries.

The 5K, a Peachtree Road Race and Run and See Georgia Gran Prix qualifier, begins at 8 a.m. with a course around First Baptist Church of Woodstock (11905 Highway 92, Woodstock).

The race will benefit Next Step’s mission of assisting families and individuals with disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, severe developmental disabilities and brain trauma. Next Step’s therapeutic day programs cater to those who have aged out of high school and seeking specialized care. Those attending the programs work with certified Direct Support Professionals to participate in individually tailored activities and therapies that meet their specific needs to benefit their cognitive and physical well-being.

“There are not many organizations that are able to meet the specific needs of this population,” Next Step’s Leigh Johnson said. “Next Step does just this, and very successfully. Families who are part of the program can live relatively normal day-to-day lives, and most importantly, they get back their peace of mind that was missing previously.”

Based in Woodstock, Next Step serves families in Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton counties.

“When people participate in the 5K, they are directly supporting the mission of Next Step Ministries,” Johnson said. “We want to raise awareness about the need for care for people who have special needs.”

Next Step 5K group

Johnson said the overall goal for the 2021 iteration of the 5K is to exceed the participation of 2019, which saw over 500 attendees.

“Currently, we are tracking ahead of the curve over 2019,” she said.

Those wanting to participate who are out of town or want to complete a 5K on their own time can also participate in the Run, Walk or Roll virtual 5K. This option allows for individuals to complete the 5K at any location through Oct. 3.

T-shirts and medals will be awarded to finishers of the virtual and in-person events.

Race-day “pickup” will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 2 with the 5K beginning at 8 a.m. Attendees can register at runwalkorroll.com. Registration is $35 per person through Sept. 29, with race-day registration at $40. Team and referral discounts are also available.

Children in strollers can participate for free, and dogs on a leash are welcome.

There will also be contests for the best team T-shirt design, largest team, best virtual location photo and more.

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