Oak Mountain Color Run

Join us on March 9, 2024 at the Oak Mountain State Park!

Our Purpose

The Oak Mountain Color Run is a fundraiser for UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center founded and run by students! SO far since 2013, we have raised over $108,000 for UAB and are super excited for our upcoming Color Run on March 9, 2024

Our History

Molly Shealy and Mandy Kelly decided to create the Oak Mountain Color Run in 2013 in memory of their family members that had been affected by cancer. Their vision helped create an event that has an impact on many in our community.

Donald Reid Ellison

Donald Reid Ellison was an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Alabama. He was a father of four, grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of three. At the age of 83 he was an active member of his Kentucky community, continuing to perform engineering work. Age is not what slowed Donald Ellison down, however; he was diagnosed with lung cancer in June of 2010 after 70 years of smoking. He passed away in Sept 2010 from complications from the surgery and COPD. This was just eight short weeks after his procedure. He never left the hospital here in Alabama. An incredible, fun loving, family man was taken by a disease that kills millions annually.

Susan Adele Provost

Susan Adele Provost Powers was born in October 1938. She attended Plattsburgh State in Upstate New York and received her Masters from Saint Rose. Susan was married to Thomas Powers. They lived on a farm in Clifton Park, New York. Susan taught first and third grade at Shenendehowa County School, and later became a substitute teacher when her son was born. Susan is the mother of three children and has six grandchildren. She was very active in the community and was President of the Ladies Auxiliary for the Jonesville volunteer Fire department, member of PTA, and Brownie troop leader. At the age of 38, Susan had been sick for months with various diagnoses. She went to the eye doctor and was immediately sent to the ER and admitted. It took another 24 hours to diagnose her with a rare form of Leukemia. Due to how far the disease progressed undiagnosed, Susan died 10 days later from a cerebral hemorrhage. She was an amazing woman who inspires her family to this day.

The Story

The first Oak Mountain High School Color Run did not go as expected.

Rain washed away the chalked-out running trail, they ran low on T-shirts, and in the end, the fundraiser made around negative $200. Despite that rough start, the Color Run 5K is now entering its fourth year and is continuing to grow.

OMHS graduates Mollie Shealy and Mandy Kelly Brauer organized the first color run in 2013, and while they decided in the fall to host a color run, planning didn’t start until February or March, Kelly said. 

“We did all the planning, and it was kind of hard,” Kelly said. “It was hectic because it was two 17/18-year-old girls who had never planned a color run or 5K before.”

It started as an end-of-the-year fundraiser for Relay for Life through SGA, but both had a greater connection to the cause. Shealy’s grandfather, Donald Reid Ellison, had died three years prior after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Kelly’s grandmother, Susan Adele Provost Powers, died from a cerebral hemorrhage after she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  

For Shealy, organizing a run to raise money for cancer research was the result of a love for her grandfather. She went through the process of seeing him diagnosed and seeing his health complications, and after he died, she wanted to make a change.

While Kelly’s grandmother, Susan Adele Provost Powers, died before she was born, she grew up hearing stories about Powers and being inspired by her grandmother’s memories. 

The next year, the Color Run was held in honor of Shealy and Kelly’s grandparents, and money raised went both to Relay for Life and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The run, which now takes place around the lake at Oak Mountain State Park, remains completely student led and organized.

Looking back on the last three races, which have gone from losing $200 in 2013 to raising around $5,000 in 2016, Shealy said it’s an honor to see the community continue to support the cause.

“People realize this isn’t just a color run,” Kelly said. “This is a color run to raise money to help end cancer.”

Recently in 2019, we surpassed our goal to raise $100,000 for cancer research at UAB, and this year, we raised over $17,000 at the 2021 run itself!