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The morning of Saturday, Jan. 30, was cloudy and cold, but that was not enough to stop the roughly 360 runners who came out for the second annual Cookies and Cocoa 5K at Buford High School. The run began at 9 in the morning under thick cloud cover, but by the end of the race, runners were able to enjoy treats and hot drinks as the sun started to come out. 

The Cookies and Cocoa 5K is an annual race that was organized this year by three Buford High School students, Ryanne Alvarez, Makenzie Curry and Lily Perry. The race is their project for the FCCLA Star Events competition. The Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) Events are competitions in which FCCLA members compete at the region/district, state and national levels. Students are recognized for their proficiency in group and individual projects, leadership skills and career preparation. Last year, Makenzie Curry, Abby Wood and Kathryn Sterritt made it all the way to nationals with the 2020 Cookies and Cocoa 5K.

The Cookies and Cocoa 5K is a fundraising event that benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, as well as the career tech classes and clubs of Buford High School. This year, the race raised about $10,000 in donations from sponsors and racers alike, with nearly $7,000 coming from local business sponsors. Additionally, participants who wanted to participate but could not because of COVID could still do a “digital run” where they could make the pledge and follow along from home. Sixty percent of this year’s donations will benefit Children’s Healthcare, and 40 percent will go to career tech at BHS.

This year’s race was made possible thanks to the help of the more than 100 volunteers who helped organize snacks, water and social distancing procedures. The race looked a little different this year because of COVID protocols. Runners had to state their pace during registration and were placed at the start according to their intended pace. Upon arrival, runners had to check in with volunteers to help with counting and social distancing. In addition to these procedures, sanitizing stations were placed throughout the race area for the convenience and safety of runners and volunteers. COVID has made it difficult for everyone this past year, but events like the Cookies and Cocoa 5K show how our community can persevere and come together for a good cause.

— Torin Smith

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