Max & Jake's Big Race

Watching their sons cross the finish line at last year's Max & Jake's Big Race is something two San Diego mom's weren't sure they'd ever be a part of.

Jerilyn Hammerstrom and Paula Cook met 11years ago when Paula moved in across the street in their San Diego neighborhood.  As their families grew, so did their friendship. 

In 2003, when Jerilyn's son Max was 14 months old he underwent open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart.

"When you get a diagnosis, it does seem like the end of the world.  The last thing in the world you want is somebody going in and cracking the chest of your baby open," says Jerilyn. 

Two years later, Paula's son, Jake, had a similar procedure when he was just two years old.

"It's just such a scary diagnosis to hear that your child needs open heart surgery.  When Jake got his diagnosis I was freaked out and scared.  But having known Jerilyn and Max really well, it helped us get through it and we saw that Max is healthy and not limited at all.  He's fully recovered," says Paula. 

Bonded by their wish to help other families who may be going through this ordeal and to give back to the Heart Institute at Rady Children's Hospital, Jerilyn and Paula organized Max and Jake's Big Race. 

In last year's 2008 race, more than 500 runners turned out and raised $38,000 for the Heart Institute.  The money was used to purchase an Echocardiogram machine. 

Both Max and Jake are ready for this year's race, which includes a 100-yard dash for the little kids.  The race begins Sunday, February 22nd at 8:00 a.m. at Mission Trails Regional Park, in San Diego, California.

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