QUINCY -- Instead of sleeping in, Natalie Bartz practically had to be dragged out of bed on Saturday -- all for a good cause.
The 13-year-old from Maywood, Mo., joined family and friends to walk a 5K as part of the Bridge to Gap to Health Race.
A first-time participant, "she's always wanted to do it," said Natalie's mom, Desi Bartz.
Ready to walk, and slightly more awake, Natalie was ready to test herself.
"I want to see if we can do it," she said.
The Bartz family joined more than 1,500 participants, and another 500 volunteers, in the 19th annual event featuring a 5K walk and run, a 10K run and a half marathon.
"We are just so appreciative of the community supporting the race and the businesses that support the race and take the time to encourage their employees to participate," Race Director Jennifer Sousa said.
All proceeds from Bridge the Gap go to support the Med Assist program of Quincy Catholic Charities, which helps patients afford their medications.
"For me, it's a tradition," said Quincyan Becky Haskins, who ran the 5K and has run the 10K and half marathon in the past and coordinates the annual Quincy St. Jude Run. "The appeal is running across the bridges. I think that's what brings a lot of people down here, and obviously it's for a good cause, keeping money in the community and helping each other out."
More than 100 members of the Quincy Catholic Elementary School Running Club ran across the bridges after training eight weeks to get ready for the event.
"I like running," sixth-grader Dylan Kies said. "It helps the community."
Laura McReynolds celebrated her birthday early by walking the 5K with a friend, Paulette Sackett, a former Quincyan now living in Silvis.
"We ran the gap for my 45th birthday. We were training together and having a running buddy makes all the difference," McReynolds said.
"Neither of us have found a training buddy. That's why we're walking it this time," Sackett said.
First-time walkers Julina Kirby of Barry wanted to support the effort to help others, and her 13-year-old daughter Madison decided to come along.
"I like to try to be healthy, and it's a good way to get involved and encourage yourself," Kirby said after snapping selfies with Madison with the Mississippi River and the Bayview Bridge in the background.
Supporting the good cause draws many participants -- and, Sousa said, so does being able to walk across the bridges, which typically are closed to pedestrian traffic.
"It's a really large race, so that allows people to kind of have that bigger race experience," Sousa said. "People are very health conscious. People like to get a walk in, get some exercise and feel better and healthier overall."
Dana Johnson of Camp Point and his family joined some 30 Huber employees and family members walking or running in the event, with all of them sporting matching T-shirts.
Johnson tries to get a walk in every day, and he spent Saturday's doing what he often does -- trying to keep up with his 3-year-old granddaughter Quinton.