The Jonny & Xena “Spread the Words” 5k and festival is a one-stop shop for animal adoption.
“I don’t know if there’s anything like this where there’s free adoption,” says Linda Hickey, founder of Jonny & Xena's Spread the Words Foundation, Inc. “I truly think our 5k is going to make some history on Oct. 28 and find some homes for these animals in need.”
The combo 5k, fun run and festival will host more than 20 animal rescue groups at Suwanee’s Town Center Park on Saturday, October 28. Participants can adopt one of the many cats or dogs in need of a home, with an approved application, and then get their pet microchipped on site. A dog trainer will be in attendance to answer any questions new pet owners have about their furry friends. The event aims to make animal adoption a quick, easy experience.
Animal adoption is one of the many nontraditional 5k activities paired with the charity run. The festival also includes a silent auction, dog-themed music sung by the Brookwood Elementary choir, vendors and a blow-up slide. The actual 5k starts at 9 a.m., and participants are encouraged to run or walk with their dogs (or cats, if runners can perform miracles). For those who find the race’s more than 3-mile trek unappealing, a half-mile “fun run” will be held at 10 a.m. The festivities end at 12:30 p.m.
“It is a way for all of us like-minded people who want to rescue animals and do better in the world to come together,” Hickey says. The race benefits the Jonny & Xena Spread the Words foundation, a nonprofit founded to improve the lives of individuals living with Autism and other developmental disabilities. The foundation is named in honor of the extraordinary friendship between Jonny, a boy diagnosed with Autism, and Xena the warrior puppy.
The Hickey family adopted Xena in 2013. The “warrior puppy,” as her fans dubbed her, had been found close to death in a Dekalb yard but was eventually deemed healthy enough to be adopted. Xena quickly bonded with Jonny and the duo’s friendship went viral. The ‘Xena the Warrior Puppy’s Facebook page has more than 145,900 likes, and the race has virtual participants registered from every state. Hickey expects 350 runners, some hailing from as far away as Australia.
“That’s truly how social media is amazing,” says Hickey. “It can connect people from all over the world to the Suwanee Town Center. People all over the world can come together to support animal community and special needs.”
Jonny & Xena “Spread the Words” 5k/Fun Run/Walk & Festival. 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Town Center Park, 330 Town Center Avenue; $25-$45.50. xenathewarriorpuppy.com