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Champions of Hope is a 5-K, 10-K and half marathon competitive race, 1-mile Spirit Walk and Kids Zone community cancer awareness event presented annually by the Southeast Health Foundation. Each year sponsors, runners, walkers, and survivors, along with their families and friends gather to raise money and awareness about the importance of early detection and intervention.

Raising more than one million dollars since its inaugural event in 2008, proceeds from Champions of Hope help expand cancer services and programs offered by Southeast Health. Some of the services and programs funded include Cancer Navigation Services, 3D mammography, customized information reference binders for newly diagnosed patients, and post-mastectomy comfort kits.

Each year a cancer survivor is selected as the honorary chair of Champions of Hope. The 2020 Champions of Hope Honorees are Christi Peterson & Al Stefin. Previous chairwomen include Sandi McCool (inaugural chair and event inspiration), Kelli Cundith, Kelli Hall and Franzie Bondy.

Our 2020 Champions of Hope Honorees: Christi Peterson & Al Stefin

It Was Once A Dream

The History of Champions of Hope

In Spring 2008, while visiting with close friends, Sandi McCool – a nurse, wife, and friend fighting breast cancer – shared her dream of one day participating in a local event that would honor and encourage breast cancer survivors. That dream became a reality on October 25, 2008, when more than 500 participants gathered on the campus of the Southeast Alabama Medical Center (Southeast Health Medical Center) to embrace the fighting spirit of those who have battled or are battling breast cancer.

On November 23, 2011, Sandi lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer. Sandi will always remain the inspiration and driving force behind Champions of Hope. In 2012, as a tribute to her legacy, the event was named The Sandi McCool Champions of Hope. Since its inaugural year (2008) Sandi’s vision continues to grow and to date Champions of Hope has raised more than one million dollars in support of breast cancer awareness, early detection and intervention services.

In 2018, as a further tribute to Sandi’s legacy, the Southeast Health Foundation Board of Trustees expanded the scope of cancer services that the event funds would support. On October 20, 2018, the Wiregrass community rallied to support the first Champions of Hope to celebrate all cancer survivors and previvors affected in the region.

Champions of Hope 2020 will continue to expand on Sandi’s vision as it evolves its commitment to all in our community impacted by a cancer diagnosis. The event will return to its original name, Champions of Hope and will also recognize our first Sandi Thurman McCool Champion of Spirit award recipient. Each year this award will recognize our largest individual fundraiser, someone that is committed to Sandi’s passion that cancer care needs a community and is easier at home.

Past Event Chairs & Honorees

2008 Chair – Sandi Thurman McCool
2009 Chair – Kelli Cundith Beaty
2010 Chair – Kelli Hall
2011 Chair – Franzi Bondy
2013 Chair – Melinda McClendon

2014 Chair – Sandy Brooks
2015 Chair – Patty Harris
2016 Chair – Valerie Harris
2017 Chair – Janet Jones
2018 Honorees – Pat & Roddy Cook

Frequently Asked Questions

The Spirit Walk and 5K Race is $25.
The 10K Race is $35.
The Half Marathon Race is $50.
The Kids Zone is FREE.

The longer distance requires additional support to ensure the runners are safe and have adequate support to complete their race. It is typical of most races to have a higher fee for longer distances.

All of our participants have the same registration fee no matter their age. The Kids Fit Challenge is FREE so children can participate in two events and receive our event shirt. Registration for the Kids Fit Challenge doesn’t get the little ones a shirt but there are extra shirts for sale in the Champions of Hope merchandise tent.

You must be at least 10 years old to participate in the 5K/10K race. Participants of all ages are welcome to register for the Spirit Walk.

Contact the Foundation and we will assist you with the change.

Parking is open and available on a first come first serve basis.

Your child can run the 5K/10K/half route with you but s/he will need to actually register as a Spirit Walk participant. To be competitive you will need to register in the 5K/10K/half event so that you will get the electronic timer and bib to receive official results. Your child will not be able receive the official timing because of his/her age. Unfortunately we cannot make exceptions to the age requirement because we are a certified route.

Animals are allowed to participate in the Spirit Walk only. Please keep your dog on a leash at all times, clean up any messes and please walk at the back of the of the group.

Yes, you can run with a stroller. Runners are lining up based on pace times; however, runners with strollers will need to line up in the last pace time regardless of their personal pace time.

The Spirit Walk is approximately 1 mile long.