Alex Morris wore bib No. 001 and finished in first place among women in a new 5K race this summer -- one the Naperville 12-year-old planned herself.
Alex's 5K RAGE, or Race for Answers to Gluten Enteropathy, drew 150 participants to Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton, all running or walking 3.1 miles to raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation.
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The race planner and her parents called the 5K a success and said they will be donating nearly $9,000 raised at the event to the Celiac Disease Foundation this week.
"We had a lot of people there and we raised a lot of money," Alex said. "It was just a really good day. It was a really nice day for running."
The June 8 event was the culmination of months of work Alex and her parents, Randy and Jody Morris, did to plan the fundraiser as Alex's bat mitzvah project. When she completes the ceremony marking her transition to adulthood in the eyes of the Jewish faith, Alex said she will give a speech about the 5K as her service project.
"It teaches you how to give back to the community," Alex said.
Alex directed her bat mitzvah project efforts toward a condition that affects her, Celiac disease.
Alex was diagnosed with Celiac disease last year, and the disorder has prevented her from eating her former favorite food, French bread. People with Celiac are unable to eat gluten, a protein in wheat, because it inflames their bowels and can prevent absorption of nutrients and normal growth.
Alex finished the 5K in 20:02 behind first overall finisher Jack Briggs, who came in at 19:13. She then handed out medals to other finishers, like girls 10 and younger division winner Grace Lube, who also has Celiac disease.
"She said she was really excited that there was finally a race for Celiac disease because she had been looking for one," Alex said.
Participants have been asking if Alex's 5K RAGE will take place again next year and become an annual event.
"Not next year," Jody Morris said. "But maybe we'll do it every two years."