JOPLIN, Mo. — Hundreds of runners, walkers, and volunteers were up bright and early this morning (Saturday) — and for a good reason.

It’s all for the “11th Annual Big Red Shoe” — hosted by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States — and sponsored by TAMKO Building Products for nine years now.

The event was also emceed by Living Well’s own Gary Bandy and Shelby Neely.

This year’s races included the 800-meter run for the kids — who all received their prized medals after crossing that finish line.

Next up, the 8K race, followed by the one-mile “Walk for the House.”

These volunteers began setting up as early as 5 this morning — all with smiles on their faces — as many have experienced first-hand how the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States keeps families together — during some of the toughest times.

“Because our families really do come from a 65 to 70-mile radius, and so, they’re our local communities. Over 272 local communities have been served,” said Annette Thurston, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States Executive Director.

“We believe in the strength of families, we believe in the strength of our community, and Ronald McDonald House here in the Four States can only be as strong as the community that supports it,” said Kim Eckerman, TAMKO Building Products Director of Marketing & Communications.

“It’s just such an amazing experience whenever you get pure joy when people see you, and they get to come and get hugs and get pictures, and they’re just excited to see their favorite characters. And we get to provide that,” said Amber Hoffman, Cheering on Participants.

All of the proceeds from today’s fun will go right back to the continued efforts of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States.

The next event for the organization is November 11th — the “Gift of Life, Gift of Love” — when Santa will light the Christmas tree at 5:30 that evening.