COLUMBIA — Max Ferguson might just be the youngest miler in Columbia.
The 2-year-old joined forces with his parents, Eric Ferguson and Jill Ferguson, in Sunday's John Anderson College Avenue Mile.
"He ran the whole way," Jill Ferguson said. "And made sure to hit all the puddles."
And there were plenty of puddles for him to jump in along the way. Despite a downpour before the race and thunder that persisted through the awards ceremony, runners and walkers cheerfully completed the trek down College Avenue from Broadway to Stadium Boulevard.
The race, which was sponsored by the Anderson Family Charitable Foundation and Midwest Computech, raised an estimated $30,000 for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and various Columbia elementary schools.
The Fergusons wore matching team T-shirts, designed by Eric's coworker Jon Mueller. A cartoon on the front depicts a smiling, running John Anderson who's wearing a sweatband that says "Anderson's Fandersons" — the team name Eric coined.
ESPN SportsCenter anchor and MU alum John Anderson returns to Columbia periodically for charity events. This time, he got to see students from the running clubs his foundation supports.
"For lack of a better term, those are our kids," Anderson said.
The start line was right in front of Wood Hall at Stephens College, and the Stephens community jumped on board with the event. The effort was coordinated by Luanne Andes, the executive assistant to Stephens' president Dianne Lynch.
"You guys were our angels in this," Anderson said to the Stephens participants.
Andes said it was a great opportunity for students to bond early in the semester as about 250 freshmen get their bearings at Stephens.
"I called, and the president's office said, 'Oh, you're starting this on our front lawn,' and I thought, they're going to be really mad at us walking on their grass," Anderson said. "And they were great."
In order to offset the $20 race fee, faculty and staff sponsored the students. By the Friday before the race about 120 Stephens students, staff and faculty had registered. The college provided pink T-shirts for all participants, and Lynch hosted a brunch at her home after the race.
"It was just a team effort," Andes said. "That's the main thing."
As for next year, Anderson looks forward to better weather.
"We would like to have more runners, and we would like to have them all dry," Anderson said.
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.