2019 marked the 22nd annual Run for the Reason, where employees run from Georgia Power's corporate headquarters in Atlanta to the little village of St. Simon's Island on the eastern coast of Georgia – the fifth route in the race's history. A tradition now, but started with a small idea by employee Jimmy Zerkus.
When the Olympics came through Atlanta in the summer of 1996, Jimmy Zerkus, a project manager in power and energy services, took his wife and children to see the torch relay. "My family and I thought it was a really cool event, and I started to think how great it would be if we could do something similar across the state of Georgia," he said. "But as a way to raise money." Zerkus sketched the idea of a race in a notepad and shared it with his colleagues, who were not sure about the idea in the beginning. Within a couple days, however, most of them came back supporting the idea of a run that would benefit some type of charity. The specific idea of running for the American Cancer Society (ACS) came to Zerkus as he was getting ready for work at 4:30 a.m. one day. In turn, he shared the idea with co-workers when he got to work. "We all knew someone affected by cancer. Our manager's administrative assistant was recovering from breast cancer at the time, as was my best friend's wife," he said. "We felt it was the right organization to support."
While ACS was skeptical that the Georgia Power event would work, the first "Run for the Reason" in October 1998 raised more than $13,000. During the event, employees ran from the Tennessee-Georgia line to the Florida-Georgia line – approximately 313 miles. "By the time we were all done with the race, we knew we had to do it again the next year because it was such a success," Zerkus said.
This year's race pushed the all-time donation mark to ACS to over $2 million for cancer research. "The $2 million far surpasses what we thought we would raise when we started this charity run 22 years ago," said Zerkus. "Georgia Power has always been 100 percent behind us. It's amazing to see what a small group of people can do when they get behind an important cause."