The 41st running of the Mother’s Day Run, Walk and Ride brought an estimated 6,000 people to Chinook Centre for the annual fundraiser that benefits vulnerable newborns and increases access to sports.

“Every year there’s more and more participants as people in Calgary learn about the run, they learn about the great charities we support,” explained Krist Lalach, vice president of legal with FGL Sports. “We’ve added the neonatal intensive care unit for the Calgary Health Trust and also Jumpstart last year.

Lalach says people have a strong connection with Calgary Health Trust and there is visible support during the family friendly event for the contributions of neonatal intensive care units (NICU).

“From people having photos of their infants on their bibs to people talking about what the NICU and JumpStart have done for them,” said Lalach. “This is about the charities. This is about raising money for the kids.”

For more than a decade, members of the Rushing Russians have participated in the event that is a family affair. “We bring our moms here. We bring our daughters here,” explained Vikroya Rustad who ran alongside her 12-year-old daughter Myah. “It’s a tradition.” The Rustads have participated in nine Mother’s Day runs together.

Dave Cook laced up for the event alongside his wife, their three children and the family’s dog. “The wife wants to do it as a Mother’s Day gift plus it gets all of the family out. It’s a great way for the community to come together. It’s just a great atmosphere.”

“Everybody’s out having fun and it’s a nice day today too.”

Ahead of the start of the run, hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser referred to the Mother’s Day Run, Walk & Ride as ‘one of the greatest events that Calgary hosts’.

“People are out here from all walks of life, all different sorts of fitness levels, from families right up to the hardcore runners. It’s a nice mix.”

Wickenheiser says the causes the event supports hold a special place in her heart.

“JumpStart helps kids get involved in sport. Last year, I think there were 9,000 kids in Calgary that they helped,” said  As a mom of a preemie, my son was three months premature, the NICU really saved his life when he was born.”

According to event officials, the Mother’s Day Run, Walk & Ride has raised more than $2 million over the last 11 years. The total funds raised during the 2018 event have yet to be tabulated.

For results from this year’s event, visit Mother’s Day Run, Walk & Ride race results.

With files from CTV’s Kevin Fleming