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GEHC to hold annual Ella's Run

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In this 2012 file photo, participants Tammy Nunnally, Corinna Ragsdale and Connie Bryant make their way through the 5K course during the fifth annual Ella’s Run at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center in Buford.

IF YOU GO

• What: Ella’s Run

• When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

• Where: Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, 2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford

• Cost: $15 to $30

• For more information: Visit www.active.com or www.righttohikeinc.com

BUFORD — In 2008, Meredith Hope Emerson went missing on Jan. 1 while hiking in Blairsville with her dog, Ella, who she had adopted from a rescue shelter. She was found six days later murdered in the woods.

To celebrate her life, friends and family created the nonprofit Right to Hike, which hosts an annual race called Ella’s Run, which returns on Saturday.

The 5K and fun run takes place at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center. Participants are encouraged to bring their leashed canines to run on the road and trail course.

On Saturday morning, if Right to Hike hasn’t reached its 1,000 person capacity, walk-up runners can register. T-shirts are available only while supplies last.

After the race, there is a festival featuring vendors, music, food, kid’s activities and a beer garden. This year’s food is catered by Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

All proceeds from this event will go toward Right to Hike’s main focus of donating emergency cellphone units to local parks, trails and greenways. So far, the group has donated three phones: one each at GEHC, the Suwanee Greenway and Gary Pirkle Park in Sugar Hill. Right to Hike plans to donate five additional phones to the community in the future.

Funds also go to help fund the Meredith Hope Emerson Award for Study Abroad at UGA, and to support animal rescues and microchipping.

“Through the years we have, not only donated these emergency units, but we have also contributed funds to Meredith’s Scholarship at the University of Georgia, partnered with humane societies and supported numerous local organizations in need,” said Brent Seyler, vice president of Right to Hike Inc. “We are so thankful for our partners, like Georgia’s Own Credit Union, and support from our entire community that afford us the opportunity to support all the various interests that Meredith enjoyed.”

Due to budget constraints at the GEHC, there is no mud run this year.