The race was on at the 7th Annual 5K Halloween Hustle in Baldwin Park — only the runners weren't sprinting for exercise.
Instead, they were racing toward a much bigger goal of ending childhood hunger in Orlando because, according to a study from the Second Harvest Food Bank, one out of three children in Central Florida goes to bed hungry.
The 5K was hosted by the Junior League of Greater Orlando, a women's volunteer group that dedicates its time to serve the community in any way possible. The League donated 1,275 pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank in 2013 due to the success of the race. More than $30,000 were raised last year for community programs with the help of 1,500 runners.
This year, UCF's College of Medicine also joined in on the fun, with its physician practice office as a first-time sponsor of the event.
"We strive to support the community through health and wellness, "said Karen Phillips, assistant director of communications at the College of Medicine. "What better way to do that than by supporting healthy activity?"
Racing for a cause isn't just for adults at this Halloween Hustle, though. It was a family event with a kids fun run, fall-inspired games and local food trucks. Everyone was encouraged to dress in a Halloween costume to get in the spirit. A costume contest took place after the run, with sweaty racers proudly showing off their attire.
"It's amazing to see different involvement in the community," said Han Truong, president of the League. "It's hard to have an event that every age can enjoy."
Feeding children in need is just the first step in the League's goals for Orlando. It works closely with the Rock Lake Community Center, where League member teach kids healthy eating habits and how to stay active. Pantry boxes are donated to the center's families that include hearty food staples.
"This race came about because we didn't need another gala," Truong said. "We were trying to distinguish ourselves from other nonprofits by doing something different that promotes a healthy lifestyle."
While many people initially joined the 5K for the exercise, they crossed the finish line with a deeper understanding of the cause at hand.
"I like the social aspect of it," said Jenny Hinsdale, a first-time 5K runner from Maitland. "It's more than just a race. It's the community coming together to do their part."