“You can’t beat finishing in the Big House,” says Andrea Highfield. Highfield organized the inaugural Big House Big Heart race two years ago, inspired by the death of her husband Michael’s law partner and close friend, Phil Bowen, from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). That first run raised $172,000 for charities, including U-M’s Program for Neurology Research & Discovery and Mott Hospital.
In 2008, after Pfizer’s departure devastated local nonprofits, race organizers responded by encouraging joggers to organize teams to benefit their favorite charities. Highfield, marketing and development director at Running Fit, says that helped push BHBH onto the national stage. About 10,000 runners are expected for this year’s 5K run October 4–and organizers hope to raise $500,000.