BELTON — It was a good day to run and play at the Trails of Hope 5k on Saturday. About 550 runners thronged the starting line to benefit Hope for the Hungry’s local and worldwide outreaches.

“This has become a real big event for us,” said Danny Davis of Salado, the organization’s executive director. “It’s been really important for us in introducing ourselves to people.”

There also was a free run for children and fun activities provided by Belton Parks and Recreation, including meeting police officers and firefighters, riding a mechanical bull, sack races, a bouncy house, barrel train ride, football toss and disc golf.

“We’re assisting Hope for the Hungry with the event and the entertainment side,” said Matt Bates, recreation coordinator for the city of Belton.

The 5k started and ended at the ministry’s 10-acre property on Wheat Road.

Hope for the Hungry serves children locally and around the world. It began in Haiti 31 years ago, and now reaches 17 countries, said Jen Sutton, director of children’s ministries for the organization.

Hope supports two children’s homes and three schools in Haiti. It also has a local children’s ministry.

“We go to low-income areas in Belton and tell Bible stories twice a week,” Sutton said.

They also take the children to basketball games and other events.

Julie Allison, of Harker Heights, said it was her first Trail of Hope.

“It’s a good cause,” she said. “I ran into it online. It’s obviously a popular run.”

She said she runs 8 or 9 miles twice a week. Charles Salter of Rosebud, Alex Vail of Harker Heights, and William Chandler of Copperas Cove, are all nurses at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple.

They frequently make weekend runs together, and chose the road option for this run.

Salter also runs obstacle races, and said the next one, called the Spartan Sprint, will be in Burnet.

Since the Fourth of July, he said he’s lost 47 pounds running.

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