HARKER HEIGHTS — Ghouls, goblins, super heroes and four-legged caped crusaders ran to eradicate polio at the fifth annual Monster Dash on Saturday morning.

“There are about 274 cases of polio in the world right now,” said organizer Kelly Barr. “A couple of years ago there was a lot of debate about whether or not we should maintain where we were on polio vaccinations or attempt to eradicate the virus. Now there’s no more debate, we are close to eradicating it. For every dollar we raise today, Rotary Club International will double it and the Bill Gates Foundation will double that.”

Killeen Evening Rotary Club members were out in force Saturday morning as volunteers and take this mission seriously.

“We’ve eradicated polio except for a few countries, and over the last few years, there’s been a big push to get rid of it all,” said Mark Rogers, an Evening Rotary Club member.

Running in her first 5-kilometer race, Killeen resident Danielle Smith chose the Monster Dash for two reasons: “I’m training for my second-degree black belt and need to increase my cardio, and I know that polio is still detrimental in other countries so thought this would be a good way to help raise money for a good cause.”

Smith finished three minutes faster than any of her training times.

Temple resident Virginia Sanders, the 10-kilometer winner in the female overall division, and Harker Heights resident Craig Laurenson, who won the 10k for men aged 40-44, have been running partners for years. They enjoy races that benefit the community.

“Races are a fun way to donate and raise awareness,” Laurenson said.

“We just presume that everyone gets all their vaccines, but because no one gets these diseases, parents might not immunize their children,” Sanders said. “Then they wonder why they get sick. It’s still important to get the immunizations.”

Herald/ Kathryn Leisinger

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