The Michigan football team isn’t the only group taking the Big House by storm this weekend.

On Sunday, Ann Arbor will play host to the second annual Big House Big Heart race, a charity run that drew nearly 5,000 participants and raised more than $200,000 last year.

Entry fees will benefit the C.S. Motts Children’s Hospital and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research at the University, but participants are encouraged to form their own teams and raise money for any charity of their choice.

University alum Kim McDowell is heading up a team that will benefit the University Center for the Development of Language and Literacy, an organization that offers language and literacy training to adults with brain injuries and children with language-related disorders.

McDowell said she’s excited to be part of the event because it gets University students involved in the Ann Arbor community. Her team includes students, clients at the center and even client parents.

“I think that what makes this event so different is it does a really good job uniting the student population and the Ann Arbor community,” she said. “You have the people who want to do it because it’s in the Big House, and then you have people that are involved in non-profit organizations.”

Mike Highfield, a University alum and Ann Arbor resident, who started the event, developed the charity run after his law partner was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. A longtime runner with a love for Michigan athletics, Highfield saw a need for a race that ends in the Big House.

Last year’s course went through Central Campus, but because of the increased traffic that will accompany the afternoon start time of this year’s race, it will run through the athletic complex instead. The race ends with a dash through the Michigan Stadium tunnel. Runners will be able view their finish on the stadium’s big screens.

He expects this year’s event to draw at least 7,500 participants and a bigger haul for charities than last year. Holding the race in the afternoon as opposed to the morning should entice more students to participate, he said.

“We’re trying to reach out to the students and we thought we might even have a better chance of getting students on a Sunday after a football game,” Highfield said. “Everybody’s hopefully out of bed and sobered up by 10, so they can get out to the race.”

Participants can register online for either the 5K or the one-mile race.

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