Approximately 700 runners raced, jogged and walked along Kaplan's Woods Parkway and beyond in Owatonna Saturday for the 11th annual From the Heart Run. The event and the meal and auctions Friday raise money to benefit local families battling cancer.

I spoke with several runners after hoofing my way around town on a gloriously sunny morning. Several people told me they had a tough time on their run or had a time higher than they hoped for. That's still better than having cancer.

Many runners had direct connections to the recipient families of Cheryl Bastyr, Monica Kruschke, Christopher Utoft or Dawn Armstrong. Other participants were locals looking to do a good turn of helping to raise money for the cause. Still others came from out of town seeking a run to compete in. The fundraising aspect was a secondary benefit.

The way the whole community comes together to help their own is heartwarming. Law enforcement officers control intersections, the local bike club keeps tabs on the runners, school groups operate aid stations and random residents cheer the participants on.

From the Heart included a half marathon, a half marathon relay, a 5K walk or run, and a kids fun run. Friday's meal and auction brought in substantial funds. Many silent auction baskets featured local businesses and personal creations. The live auction was highlighted by a trip to Washington D.C. to see the 4th of July fireworks, tickets to Pentatonix and Twins tickets.

The 12th annual From the Heart Run will fall on the first Saturday in May. Watch for details on the She Time event in February that also benefits From the Heart.

Beth Svenby started the charity over a decade ago after learning of a member of her church who was battling cancer. Lisa Hilstad was the first recipient of the event.

Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media