Last weekend, the streets were bustling around Kehrs Mill Elementary in Chesterfield, MO. It was a sight to see – runners stretching and happiness all around, all in anticipation for the first ever Big Heart 5K. 375 runners gathered together to participate in the one mile and 5K charity race. But what made this event even more exciting, was that all of the proceeds collected at the event were going to help homeless animals in the metro East.


Elle Devous, age 10, and her uncle Dan Hohm came up with the idea for the charity race together, and armed with the help of the entire 4th grade class, saw it to fruition. They asked the entire school, with over 500 students, to vote on who would receive the proceeds for the race, and Gateway Pet Guardians won handily. The 4th grade classes, led by Mrs. Hohm, coordinated the vote and donations as part of a service learning project. The students gathered donations and recruited for the race, worked on collecting items for the GPG wish list, and tried to get as many registrants as they could to run/walk in the race. The event ended up bringing in over $7,000 cash and approximately $2,000 in item donations.

It was an empowering experience for both the students and the community. Gateway Pet Guardians had a few of the adoptable dogs on site that the proceeds were to help, and the dogs showed nothing but love and appreciation. Some of the students recount their experiences setting up the race:

“I love running, especially with my friends. I loved that this time when I was running, I knew I was helping save puppies like Ayers. I tried so hard to get my friends to vote for Gateway, and it feels good to help. I wish everyone had rescue pups. I have 3.” – Elle Devous, age 10

“I thought the dogs on the GPG bulletin board were so cute that I wanted to help them. It feels good to help pups because I have two at home, and I know how important it is to save puppies’ lives.” – Alivia Martinez, age 9

Thank you, Kehrs Mill Elementary, for all of your hard work in helping the dogs at Gateway Pet Guardians!