Malaria Bites: A 5K Race in Woodstock, Georgia

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Ashley Debilzen
Allison Beebe

​This post was submitted and authored by Kristin Brenneman, Outreach Coordinator at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Woodstock, Georgia. Kristin is among the leaders of the ELCA Malaria Campaign in the Southeastern Synod. 

On Saturday April 26, runners and walkers, young and old, stepped off the starting line as Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Woodstock, Georgia hosted the “Malaria Bites” 5K Run/Walk. As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Malaria Campaign, the run/walk was founded to help prevent deaths from this deadly disease and held in conjunction with World Malaria Day, April 25. The idea for the race was a grassroots effort started by a dedicated handful of parishioners that wanted to coordinate a community event for a worthy cause. After much research, we decided the ELCA World Malaria Campaign was exactly the cause we were looking for.

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Above – runners lead the pack at the starting line of the Malaria Bites 5K.

After months of preparation, we were ready for race day. Through the grace of God, the morning was a beautiful, crisp, sunny morning. The event began at the local community high school campus and ended in the church parking lot just west of the school. One hundred and eighty seven runners/walkers from our congregation and community participated in the fundraising event and the age of participants ranged from as young as seven to as seasoned as 76. In addition, forty church members and fifteen local high school students were on hand as race course volunteers handling various race duties such as participant registration, timing, water stops, cheerleading, and traffic flow. Through the contributions of several generous local sponsors who paid for the race operations, Good Shepherd was able to donate every dollar of the race entry fees to the ELCA Malaria Campaign.


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Above, Patricia Mote, of Canton, GA, and her granddaughter, Katie Brennemen of Woodstock, GA enjoyed walking at the Malaria Bites 5K .

At the end of the race, sponsors  and vendors  greeted the runners while a local DJ and announcer kept the festivities lively.  Medals were awarded to the top three male and female runners in five year age group increments and trophies were rewarded to the overall male and female winner.  All participants received a goody bag filled with an official Malaria Bites 5K race tee shirt, informative pamphlets on the ELCA Malaria Campaign, and various items donated by our sponsors.

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Above, Pastor Paul Baumgartner crosses the finish line at the Malaria Bites 5K held in April at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

On Sunday, April 27th, GSLC Outreach Coordinator, Kristin Brenneman spoke to the congregation during all three services about the importance and success of the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  ELCA Malaria Campaign offering envelopes were placed in the pews and the Children’s Moment featured a lesson on malaria under a mosquito net. At the end of the lesson mosquito net corsages, made and donated by congregation member, Noelle Rackie, were distributed to each child so they could spread the word about the good works of the ELCA in their efforts to fight malaria.

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Above, Malaria Bites 5K Co-Coordinators Emilie Gudger, Kristin Brenneman, and Holly Jones hold the sponsor banner after the completion of the race.

Good Shepherd’s malaria awareness campaign was a great success. At the end of the weekend, Good Shepherd had raised $5400 to donate to the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Approximately $4700 was raised through the Malaria Bites 5K registration fees, while another $700 was collected from the congregation on ELCA recognized Malaria Sunday.

Thanks to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and all of the volunteers who contributed to the success of this race! Do you have a congregaitonal story to share? Stories and photos from across the ELCA can be submitted to