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people running in a 5K race

The Esperanza 5K and 1-Mile Eggsperanza Family Fun Run/Walk event coming up March 19 at Custer Road UMC supports Juntos Servimos (Together We Serve) and is the biggest fundraising event for this incredible mission.

Juntos Servimos, along with the efforts of Dr. Nancy Rodriguez and Larry Cox, responds compassionately to those struggling with extreme poverty in Northern Mexico. Since 2000, they have worked in Matamoros. With the help of volunteers from Custer Road UMC in Plano and other churches, a healing community has been built that helps hundreds of people each year overcome barriers to physical and spiritual wholeness.

Now Juntos Servimos is expanding its efforts to Cuidad Juarez, across the border from El Paso. The focus will be the same: health care, education, shelter and faith. Although the group will still serve Matamoros, violence has made trips there too dangerous. But Juarez has returned to a level of peace that allows for mission teams to visit.

The first steps to expand to Juarez took place in mid-January, when mission team including Jennifer Wagner of Custer Road UMC and members from First UMC Allen and First UMC Mansfield joined Dr. Nancy and Larry Cox in their work. The mission team dug the foundation for a building that will serve children from preschool through elementary school age, supporting their education through tutoring and a learning readiness program.

The programs, like Las Estrellitas programs at Casa Bugambilia will also provide education support for children with learning disabilities. Casa Bugambilia goes to the homes of their families to listen to them to better understand their needs.

The Matamoros mission team took a similar approach with Juana, a woman living with cerebral palsy and mental challenges. She cannot walk, and the wheelchair she was using did not fit her. In collaboration with First UMC Mansfield and Joni and Friends, over 1,000 wheelchairs were delivered in Matamoros, including on that the mission team delivered to Juana at her home. While there, Dr. Nancy noticed that Juana could not easily digest the food that was available to her and was in desperate need of a new mattress. Dr. Nancy and the mission team provided her the appropriate food and a new mattress, helping to improve her life greatly.

The Seventh Annual Esperanza 5K brings the community together in the spirit of health, fellowship and family.

The Eggsperanza 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Easter eggs can be collected while the children are on the fun run/walk and the kids can visit with the Easter Bunny. The 5K begins at 8 a.m. and is open to everyone regardless of age or athletic ability. The 1-Mile Eggsperanza Family Fun Run starts at 9 a.m. and will conclude with a cascarones (confetti eggs) celebration. Children can visit the Easter Bunny and have fun with bounce houses, face painting and more.

The first 450 of the 5K finishers and 150 of the 1-mile finishers will receive one-of-a-kind, hand painted ceramic medals. These medals were highlighted in the 2012 issue of Runner’s World magazine.

All registration and donation funds go to Juntos Servimos. To register for this race or to find out more information, go to More than 150 volunteers make this event happen. To be a part of this incredible volunteer crew, go to the Sign Up Genius.