‘Run for the Kids’ Sidelines Rivalry for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Before clean, old-fashioned hate kicks off under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field next Saturday, the game ball will be carried from Athens to Atlanta.  

Friday morning, members of the Georgia Tech and University of Georgia chapters of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) will cast the rivalry aside for the 23rd annual Run for the Kids benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Returning after a pandemic-induced hiatus, the relay, beginning at the UGA FIJI house at 7 a.m., spans 77 miles between the two campuses. Runners from the two chapters meet at a midway point in Loganville for the exchange before arriving in Atlanta at 6 p.m. The final leg of the relay will be completed just before toe meets leather on Saturday night as the ball is carried into the stadium.  

The event began in 1998 and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the nonprofit healthcare network that cares for more than a million children each year. The most recent event in 2019 raised $30,000, and Jacob Keenan was among several FIJI members determined to get the ball rolling again.  

"This event is unique because we're bridging the gap between UGA and Georgia Tech,” said Keenan, a business administration major and FIJI’s recording secretary. “In a week where our rivalry is the strongest, we come together for this common cause along with the broader Atlanta community because Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has become a beacon of hope for a lot of people here.” 

With a Georgia State Patrol escort and a truck full of snacks, water, and support trailing, members of each chapter will run a portion of the relay. While the day after Thanksgiving could be considered a difficult day to convince their peers to run several miles, Keenan said the buzz of bringing the relay back and the recognition of their cause's importance has left them with no shortage of participants.  

"It's a huge team effort, and what makes this event so incredible is that we're working hard behind the scenes, on the streets, and running the football to raise awareness, and we feel personally connected with the mission," Keenan said. “Every child deserves to hear those magical words, ‘all better,’ and this relay is our way of making that dream come true.” 

The Georgia Tech FIJI chapter welcomes online donations for this year's relay.