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Howard County high school students launch 2nd annual virtual 5K to support children fighting cancer

Two Howard County high school seniors have teamed up to support those in their community fighting cancer.

In fall 2019, then-sophomores Navya Kunadi of Marriotts Ridge High School and Simran Kalia of Oakland Mills High School founded Chasing Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit organization that looks to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

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Looking for ways to support children battling cancer during the coronavirus pandemic, the two launched the Chasing Childhood Cancer Virtual 5K last year to raise funds for Howard County General Hospital.

Kunadi, now 17 and a senior who serves as COO of the nonprofit, said the idea for the 5K served as a way to encourage individuals to get outside and exercise, especially during the pandemic.

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“We were just trying to think of any way we could get a group of people to come together and help achieve one single goal, and we thought running a 5K would be an awesome idea,” said Kunadi, of Marriottsville.

This month, the organization will be holding its second annual virtual 5K from Oct. 20-27 to raise support for the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. Registration for the 5K is open through Oct. 27.

Kunadi said she is expecting approximately 75 to 100 participants in this year’s 5K.

Those interested in participating must register online at bit.ly/chasingchildhoodcancer and pay a $15 registration fee.

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Once registered, people can participate by running or walking outside or on a treadmill, spending time outdoors, or taking a hike with family or pets.

Participants are encouraged to send a photo or video of their run or walk to chasingchildhoodcancer@gmail.com, Chasing Childhood Cancer on Facebook or chasingchildhoodcancer on Instagram.

Kalia, now 16 and a senior who serves as CEO, said she hopes the 5K will serve as an opportunity to help those in need.

“Because of the pandemic and everything, we want to be able to give back to our community in a way that is long-lasting,” said Kalia, of Columbia. “Since we are still kids in high school, being able to help out other kids who are unfortunately going through something a lot worse than what we face is a big part of that.”

Spanning a week in May 2020, last year’s 5K brought together more than 40 people ages 12 to 55 from across the state. Additionally, more than 30 people from across the continent, including California, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ontario, Canada, donated to the nonprofit, according to a news release.

Over the course of that week, the organization raised a total of $1,300.

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