Central Ohio youth could ride bicycles and run for youth who can't during the fourth annual Flying Horse Farms Flyathlon beginning at 8:30 a.m. May 31 at Glacier Ridge Metro Park, 9801 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City.

Central Ohio youth could ride bicycles and run for youth who can't during the fourth annual Flying Horse Farms Flyathlon beginning at 8:30 a.m. May 31 at Glacier Ridge Metro Park, 9801 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City.

More than 200 children are expected to participate in the duathlon and 5K to benefit Mount Gilead's Flying Horse Farms, where transformative camp experiences are provided for free for children with such illnesses as cancer and heart and kidney conditions.

Blacklick couple Claudia Herrington and Robby Simpson came up with the Flyathlon idea five years ago, when Simpson realized no athletic charity events were organized for children in the Columbus area.

"As we generated more ideas, we decided we wanted to create an event that involved our sons and include both exercise and philanthropy components," said Herrington, an attorney who is the director of compliance for JobsOhio and president of the Ohio Women's Bar Association.

As a 14-year fifth-grade science teacher at Columbus Academy, Simpson said, being healthy and in good physical shape always has been important to him. He's a runner and an avid cyclist, he said, having started as a 15-year-old when a close friend introduced him to the the sports.

As the idea of the event took shape and the couple started down the path of a 501(c)(3), Herrington shared it with her close friend, Mimi Dane, who suggested partnering with Flying Horse Farms, where she's CEO, to get the event off the ground.

"After many conversations and much hard work, the rest is history," Herrington said.

Since its inception in 2012, the Flyathlon has raised more than $147,000 to help children with serious illnesses and their families enjoy camp, said Kristy Eckert, Flying Horse communications officer. This year's goal is to raise $50,000.

Herrington and Simpson recently were awarded the Flying Horse Farms' Community Outreach & Organizational Liaison Award, which is intended to recognize an event volunteer who has helped tell the camp's story to the community and to engage new fans, new donations and new volunteers.

"Flying Horse Farms has so many volunteers who love the mission and devote an incredible amount of time and energy to the camp," Herrington said. "Imagine how honored we both were to be recognized for doing something we love to do ... for something we view as fun. It was an amazing honor and one we are glad we could share with our sons."

"By creating the Flyathlon event, Claudia and Robby opened the door to both introducing new individuals to camp and bring in a revenue stream that supports camp," said Marla Leonhard, Flying Horse Farms special-events manager. "Without them, we wouldn't have such a unique, fun and wonderful event."

This year, in addition to the run-bike-run, a 5K for older youth has been added.

"Glacier Ridge is a great space because the entire event takes place within the park," Herrington said. "Kids do not have to run or bike on the roads, so it adds an element of safety we believe the parents really appreciate. The event also has a very family-friendly feel. We think the parents enjoy the event as much as the kids do."

Flyathlon draws participants primarily from Franklin and Delaware counties, but it's open to everyone.

"The participants are running and cycling to offer an opportunity to a child they may never meet who has a debilitating or life-threatening illness," Herrington said. "Flyathlon reinforces what we as parents try to instill in our children: 1) exercise to keep yourself healthy, and 2) give back and help those who are less fortunate, in need or face unique challenges."

Flyathlon, presented by The Kroger Co., will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, May 31, with the 5K for ages 13 to 18 and a run/bike/run duathlon for children ages 7-12 at 9:45 a.m.

Registration is $20, but many participants set higher fundraising goals and raise additional money for camp.

"Flyathlon features kids helping kids, and that's awesome to see," Dane said. "These participants are literally changing the world one dollar at a time, and we are incredibly grateful for their enthusiasm and generosity."

Flying Horse Farms was opened to campers in 2010 and is a member of the SeriousFun Children's Network.

Founded in 1988 by actor, philanthropist and Ohio native Paul Newman, the network is a community of independently managed and financed camps and programs creating opportunities for children with serious illnesses.