Arthritis Foundation raises several thousand dollars with 5K

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COLUMBIA - Saturdays are usually meant for sleeping in and relaxing, but for more than 600 runners this Saturday, it was meant to run for a cause. 

The annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis raised more than $40,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.

This year's 5K local honoree was Samantha Marie Hopkins.

"We've been talking about the Jingle Bell Run for about nine months now and besides Christmas this is the next biggest thing she's been looking forward to," Richard Hopkins, Samantha's father, said. "She did the one mile walk today. She's got a little pink superman cape and I think she's having a blast, honestly."

Samantha is just four years old and her diagnosis surprised her dad.

"Before my daughter was diagnosed I had no idea kids could get arthritis," Hopkins said.

Arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans and nearly 300,000 children. 

Hopkins said it took awhile to understand what was happening to Samantha.

"She had some swelling in her foot and we thought it was maybe just an injury or some sort of an allergic reaction but after going to a bunch of doctors and after about six or nine months we got the diagnosis of juvenile arthritis," Hopkins said.

Runners paid $35 to enter the race and Hopkins said the support was high.

"Friends and family, people on Facebook that I haven't seen since like grade school donated so it's been really amazing," Hopkins said.

The first runner finished around the 16 minute mark.