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Hundreds of legs sprint for Tri-Angels playground fundraiser

Racers Jenny Benda and Jody Johnson smile at baby Zander Schwebach after the Tri-Angels races Saturday. 2 / 8
Jessica Peterson, mother of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen, supports Tri-Angels Playground and walked in the 5K race Sunday with her baby Trinity and racers Noah Schleyhan and Catherine Engstrom. 3 / 8
Race organizers Hannah Bellrichard and Samantha Jensen cheer for runners finishing the 10K and 5K races.4 / 8
Quentin Anderson demonstrates his hula hooping skill at one of the children’s activity stations.5 / 8
Spectators crowded the finish line to support their friends and family. Parents Matt Frisbee, Bill Casey, Shari Frisbee and Melissa Casey cheer on their daughters.6 / 8
Cruisin’ for a Cause, another locally-organized event, raised $7,000 this year for Tri-Angels. Motorcyclists are pictured here on their way out of town, escorted by River Falls Police.7 / 8
The motorcycle event attracted almost 300 people and some doggy motorcyclists. Frank and Diane cruise with their dog, Jasmine.8 / 8

The scene at Hoffman Park Saturday morning, July 19, was hopeful and cheerful. More than 800 runners took part in the Tri-Angels runs.

Tired participants still smiled after crossing the finish line. Upbeat songs played while people snapped pictures and gave their friends and family high-fives.

People of all ages walked and ran for a second year in honor of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen, who were killed by their father two years ago in River Falls.

Race organizers Samantha Jensen and Hannah Bellrichard, 2013 River Falls High School graduates, worked with volunteers a second year to make the event a reality.

“It’s an amazing day,” said race organizer Samantha Jensen. “It’s been very hard for Hannah and I with school, but there’s one reason we do this and it’s for Amara, Sophie and Cecilia.”

People joined together on July 19 to raise more than $30,000. Jensen said the fundraiser is near its goal -- $400,000 of $550,000 has been raised for the playground.

Construction can begin on the playground as soon as all funds are in.

Jessica Peterson, mother of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia, was at the event to support the group’s efforts.

Peterson, formerly Jessica Schaffhausen, has remarried and had a baby. She walked in the 5K race with her new arrival, Trinity.

“I just want to thank everybody so much,” said Peterson, while addressing the crowd. “This is amazing again to see so many people come out from so many different areas.

“Every person I see here makes me think that we are just one more day closer to getting this playground built. You’re all just amazing people and I love you.”

Below is a list of the top finishers for the Tri-Angel's 10K run:

Top 10 racers: (female)

1. Dina Williams

2. Jennifer Benda

3. Brittany Johnson

4. Sherilyn Stapf

5. Kendall Sexe

6. KC Harrison

7. Cassidy Buschmann

8. Deb Freeman

9. Tanya Holub

10. Jennifer Pinski

Top 10 racers: (male)

1. Daniel Hetchler

2. Jake Dotseth

3. Martin Blel

4. Michael Fecht

5. Brian Miller

6. Ted Slowiak

7. Craig Nelson

8. Andy Scmitz

9. Adam Zwacshka

10. Tracy Tool