About 550 people showed up for the Reindeer Run 5K at Reynoldsburg's Huber Park on Dec. 3, dressed in holiday finery that ranged from Santa hats to Santa suits, red or green tutus, reindeer antlers and even Christmas pajamas.

About 550 people showed up for the Reindeer Run 5K at Reynoldsburg's Huber Park on Dec. 3, dressed in holiday finery that ranged from Santa hats to Santa suits, red or green tutus, reindeer antlers and even Christmas pajamas.

There were smiles aplenty as they stepped off from the starting line, led by a man in a reindeer costume.

But the annual race and accompanying kids' fun run have a serious purpose: to support the families of children being treated for cancer.

The Reindeer Run is a fundraiser for Nellie's Champions for Kids, or NC4K. And for Nellie Krumlauf Corriveau, the annual event also is a homecoming.

Corriveau organized what was originally called Nellie's Catwalk for Kids in 2007 when she was a sophomore at Reynoldsburg High School. It was a fashion show aimed to benefit children with cancer and their families.

The fashion show later became Nellie's Champions for Kids.

After graduating from Ohio Dominican University in 2013, Corriveau continued to build NC4K into a million-dollar organization to support families in need.

She was a Jefferson Award Nominee in 2011 and received the AFP Young Philanthropist of the Year award in 2012.

The Reindeer Run draws a large crowd each year, she said. Final figures were not in for this year's 5K, but Corriveau said she expected to surpass last year's $8,000 total.

"We love hosting it in Reynoldsburg," she said. "They have been so supportive of the event since the beginning, so we cannot think of having it anywhere else.

"Everyone dresses up in fun, festive costumes to spread holiday cheer and get healthy, all while helping kids and teens in need," she said.

Money collected at the 5K run each year goes to support a Christmas program in which NC4K adopts more than 100 families and gives them "a magical and unforgettable" holiday season.

"We take care of their entire Christmas, from a new winter coat, outfit and toys off their wish list," Corriveau said. "We rent out Magic Mountain for a day and all the families get to come and enjoy a day of fun.

"Parents get to pick out even more toys and items in the Santa Shop the day of the party and all the parents load up their sleighs and take everything home to wrap, as we want them to be a part of the process," she said.

"This program is so powerful and is possible because of the 5K, adopt-a-family donors, schools collecting toys and tons of volunteers."

Summit Road Elementary is one of the Reynoldsburg schools collecting toys for the Santa Shop, Corriveau said.

Reynoldsburg Police officer Michele Fulton worked the event on her bicycle and supported a team running for Agustin Cal, a sixth-grader at Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg who is battling brain cancer.

"I am a runner and cyclist outside of work and I am driven by the amount of energy and fight these individuals have against this awful disease," she said. "My little guy has brain cancer and is fighting for his life.

"The energy of the crowd and the support of the individuals fighting for their favorite champion is an uplifting feeling," she said. "We need an army to fight this disease and for the champions fighting for their lives, they get to see they are not going to fight alone."

She said the bond of the crowd is a feeling people can only experience by being there.

"I will continue to run and fight for those who can't until cancer no longer exists," Fulton said.

Learn more about NC4K at nc4k.org.

pwillis@thisweeknews.com

@PamelaThisWeek