Runners from across the Santa Clarita Valley gathered at the College of the Canyons stadium Saturday in hopes to complete the first “leap-a-thon” hosted by Peyton’s Project and the Santa Clarita Runners Club.
Guests were encouraged to run, walk or use their power wheelchair to complete 29 laps around the football field in an effort to raise money for Peyton’s Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disorder that causes weakness and loss of muscles.
“This is to celebrate leap day and raise money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in honor of Peyton Marquez,” said Melanie Cotterell, president of the runners’ club. “When I met Peyton, I thought he was a lovely young man and then the idea of the ‘leap-a-thon’ came up and we thought it would be a great idea for a fundraiser.”
Marquez was diagnosed with DMD eight years ago. He and his family have created the Peyton Project as a way to help raise funds for research in hopes to one day find a cure and provide equipment to children who also have DMD.
Participants in the “leap-a-thon” were encouraged to make a donation of $29, which will go to the organization.
“I’ve never really organized a fundraiser like this before,” Cotterell said. “But just knowing the person and it being a local teenager, it hits close to home.”
Marquez completed the 29 laps along with his father and many other participants, although it was not required to complete the 29 laps. However, after each lap, participants dropped a raffle ticket into a box in hopes of winning gift cards and other prizes.
“The collaboration between the runners’ club and Peyton’s parents made this event work out really well,” Cotterell said. “We have people from the radio station playing music, and food and water was donated from local organizations too. It’s a nice community effort.”