Columbia’s Newest 5K to Draw Attention to Child Abuse Services

The Friends of the Metropolitan Children’s Advocacy Center (Met CAC) is using the now-ubiquitous “ugly holiday sweater” to combat the ugliness of child abuse in the Midlands while also highlighting the work of one local organization dedicated to ending child abuse.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, the Ugly Holiday Sweater 5K will raise funds and awareness for the Met CAC, which annually serves more than 1000 children suspected of being sexually and physically abused each year by providing child-centric forensic interviews and medical exams, as well as referrals for children and families.

“Child abuse is all too common in our society today,” said Rob Schaller, president of Friends of the Met CAC, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to supporting the center. “Our hope is this race will draw attention to the incredible work done by the Met CAC in combating abuse and help raise funds to invest in the center’s mission.”

“We grabbed the last available weekend in December without a race already scheduled,” said race director Kristin Dixon. “We hope people will be in a mood to do something good for themselves and good for their community by coming out to run in the ugliest holiday getup they’ve got!”

With a starting line at 5209 Trenholm Road, the race will wind through Forest Acres and will offer awards for best times by age bracket as well as a prize for the ugliest holiday sweater or ensemble. The race fee of $35 includes a t-shirt. Other race details are available at

In addition to attracting runners, Friends of the Met CAC is looking for corporate or private sponsors to underwrite the race or to purchase tables at the after-race event.

As a collaborative project between the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and the Children’s Hospital of Palmetto Health Richland, the Met CAC’s services are a key component of getting children prompt and effective care.

“We work closely with our partners in law enforcement, DSS and the courts to streamline services for children and families. By coordinating our efforts, we strengthen outcomes and reduce trauma,” said Alicia Benedetto, program director of the Met CAC.

Learn more about these organizations at, or contact Rob Schaller at

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