HARKER HEIGHTS — Andrew Layson has seen the face of hunger during his many travels to the Philippines.

“I know what it’s like to see families trying to scrape by in a Third World country,” said the Central Texas College sophomore and Enactus member. “The U.S. is such a developed country and we have so much access to food, but we forget about the families that don’t have enough or have hit a rough patch. It’s kind of out of sight out of mind here.”

Bringing attention to the ongoing issue, the group united to help defeat the cycle of hunger during its second annual 5k to “can” hunger at Carl Levin Park on Saturday morning.

“We are just a group of students trying to make a difference,” said Melissa Wise, club vice president.

All proceeds from the race will benefit the Harker Heights Food Care Center.

After collecting 180,000 pounds of food during its inaugural event last year, the group decided to up the ante and aim to collect 200,000 pounds of food before month’s end.

Going into the race, Wise said the group was 50,000 pounds shy of its goal. The group started the fundraising campaign in September through various food drives and communitywide competitions.

Before the 20 runners took their marks, Tashia Chaderton, Zumba instructor at Heritage Park Fitness, got the group moving with help from DJ Time, and Kim Bates-Wallace, a trainer at the gym, led a group stretching session.

The 3.5-mile race started in the park and looped around surrounding neighborhoods.

Finishing in first place was Christopher Silvas, a Heights resident. Not too long after Silvas crossed the finish line, Tyler Boyd from Holland and Lauren Hering of Temple rounded out the top three finishers.

Each received a trophy, certificate and free one-month membership to Gold’s Gym. Remaining runners received a one-week free membership.

“We were going to work out together today anyway and decided to run our first race together because it’s for a good cause,” said Ben Hart, a Fort Hood resident about his running partner, Jeanette Bazan of Killeen. “We enjoy doing 5k’s and the free gym membership was a pretty good incentive.”

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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