Houston marathoners running for a reason

January 14, 2010 5:06:25 PM PST
While thousands of people are preparing to hit the street for this Sunday's Chevron Houston Marathon, thousands of others will benefit from all the hard work. Runners are raising money for nearly four dozen local charities, and they are setting records.

"I surpassed $200 the first day, and so I was like $300, and did that in a day, and so I was like okay 500," said Melanie Pang, EP5K runner.

Pang is not talking about minutes or miles, but money, as in the dollars she'll raise running the EP5K this weekend at the Chevron Houston Marathon.

"I've been asking through Facebook, Twitter, and just email blasting everyone," said Pang.

She's raised more than $2,000 already for a cause that's close to her heart. When she's not on the run as a University of Houston student, she's here as an intern at the Houston Food Bank.

"I interview clients and get their stories about how they came to need food assistance, and I basically am trying to put a face on hunger," said Pang.

"Last year we had 93 runners. This year we have 150," said Betsy Ballard of the Houston Food Bank.

Those runners this year will bring in more than $35,000 for the food bank.

"We can stretch that money to get three meals for one individual for every one dollar, so those runners in effect are providing $105,000 meals for hungry people," said Ballard.

It's not just the runners giving back. It's also the Houston Marathon Foundation itself which is paying for the running shoes and race registration of 150 students at Chavez High School.

"I feel blessed, since who would actually give us the money? And they took out their time to come here and give us the money to buy shoes," said Chavez senior Palama Salazar, who's running the Aramco Half Marathon.

From the marathon foundation to the runners, and from the runners back into the community, the impact is felt all over Houston

"You're basically going out there to do what you love doing already you know. I enjoy running a lot, and if I can actually help a cause by doing something I love, then why not?" said Pang.

Runners will benefit more than 45 area charities, and last year, they raised more than $1 million. That number is already at $1.2 million for this year and is closing in on a fundraising record.