This weekend will be the 26th running of the Community First Fox Cities Marathon . The race draws more than 7,000 participants, and if you're one of them, you can be proud knowing that you'll leave with more than a medal around your neck.
"I think it is always satisfying to be a part of something that's bigger than what initially appears to be at the surface," says Community First Credit Union's Amanda Secor.
Over the past 18 years, the marathon has donated more than $850,000 dollars in proceeds to local charities.
"Overall, the impact of those dollars in our community has really made a difference," Secor says.
Tiffany Spaeth can attest to that. The UW-Fox Valley student and restaurant worker is grateful to have received $1,750 through the marathon.
"With the scholarship, they really helped me. I don't have to spend too much time worrying about getting enough hours to pay off tuition rather than spending more time with my studies."
Spaeth is on the dean's list and says the extra help is tremendous, since her parents live paycheck to paycheck.
"I don't want to ask them for help, just because I know they have their own bills to pay."
Marathon donations have helped dozens of non-profits including the YMCA, Fox Cities Diaper Bank, and even Gold Cross Ambulance which used the funds to buy life-saving defibrillators. But it's those competing in the 5K event that really go the extra mile. Every year, they tie fleece blankets to give to patients at the cancer center at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton.
"I've had five different cancer surgeries and this is the first blanket I ever got. It just sort of tugged at me a little bit, because you know you don't expect that kind of thing anymore," said Lyle Devalk.
Devalk battled bladder, stomach and lung cancer. The gift that came from runners he never met, arrived right after radiation treatment.
"I was laying there shivering at that point. I was that cold you know, and they bring in this blanket for me. Don't know the people, don't know anyone. It just does your heart good."
Secor says it's just another reason people are drawn to take part in the Fox Cities Marathon.
"The idea that you can do something that you love to do, and let us organize a race for you, we provide you with support from the start line to the finish line, and in the long run be part of something that's doing good in your community, I think makes it all the more special."
So if you don't cross the finish line first this weekend, you can still take pride in knowing everyone comes out a winner.