JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 3,000 people laced up their sneakers to take part in the Ninth Annual McKenzie Run at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday to honor the Bolles student who died of a sudden illness in 2010.
Michelle Kruger was the first woman to finish the race and then cheered on her husband, Dean, and 8-year-old daughter as they crossed the finish line.
Kruger said seeing children take part in the race makes it special.
"I just think bringing young people together to support young people is teaching them to be a community and support each other," Kruger said.
The reason behind the run is tragic. McKenzie Wilson passed away from meningitis eight years ago at the age of 15.
Her family was inspired to carry on her legacy and established The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation in her honor, which is what the race benefits.
"McKenzie's family is just really overwhelmed with joy and happiness to see everyone come out to support us today," said Adrian Gibbs, with the McKenzie's Run event.
Christopher McCaffrey finished first and says the cause is inspiring.
"You know, I'm proud that they took something that was devastating and brought it to light and have springboarded that to open up the opportunity for a lot of young people, other families that might have had something similar or in their own right something that was devastating, to know, like, hey, out of the ashes comes the phoenix," McCaffrey said.
This run comes after another recent, unexpected death of a teenage girl from St. Johns County. The cause of her death has not been released.
To read about the local and global impact from McKenzie's Run, CLICK HERE.