A Johns Creek-based nonprofit is hoping runners will want to leave with more than the satisfaction of finishing a great race on Saturday.
Hopefully, they’ll want to bring home a dog and forge a bond that’s as strong as the one that spawned the Jonny & Xena Spread the Words 5K, Fun Run, Walk, and free pet adoption at Suwanee’s Town Center Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.
The event features numerous local animal rescue groups that will allow those with approved applications to leave with a new family member. Dogs, provided they are leashed and well-behaved, can participate, with the dog that crosses the finish line first getting an award alongside the top runners in each age group.
Owners also will be able to have their pets microchipped by Planned Pethood.
In its fifth year, the Jonny & Xena Spread the Words 5K, Fun Run, Walk, and free Pet Adoption will also feature vendors, Xtreme Airballs and a performance from the Brookwood Elementary School Choir.
The day’s focus is to raise awareness for the special needs community — namely for those who are autistic — and animal rescue, since the nonprofit’s start has deep roots to both groups.
The Jonny & Xena Spread the Words Foundation was birthed from what would pass for a Disney film. In September 2012, an abused, neglected puppy that was near death was found in front of a Decatur home.
Xena, however, showed amazing perseverance.
Five months later, she went to live with a family and began to bond with Jonny, who’s Autistic. The impact Xena, who is known as the “Warrior Pup,” has had on Jonny has been immeasurable since becoming his service dog. She’s gone from being saved to becoming Jonny’s savior.
Their bond led to Jonny & Xena Spread the Words Foundation becoming a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of individuals “living with Autism and other developmental disabilities through kindness, acceptance and hope and understanding through educational programs,” according to the foundation’s website.
The Oct. 26 race is one of the nonprofit’s marquee events. The day begins with registration at 8 a.m., with the 5K event starting at 9 a.m. and the fun run at 10 a.m. The adoption event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Runners looking to register for the 5K race, which costs $30, or the one-mile Fun Run, which costs $25, can do so at xenathewarriorpuppy.com, as prices for each increase by $5 on the day of the race. If you can’t make the race and want to participate virtually, it costs $30 or $35, depending on if the participant wants a commemorative T-shirt, which are guaranteed to those who virtually registered by Oct. 20.
Runners who pre-register can pick up their packets at Big Peach Running Co., which is located at 320 Town Center Ave. in Suwanee, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 25.