An annual event geared at promoting a healthy, active lifestyles was a success Saturday.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville hosted its fifth annual 2 Your Health Fun Run/Walk at Stephenville City Park and hundreds of participants laced up their running shoes and turned out for the event.

The hospital has anted up for the effort for half a decade and the message that a healthy, active family is a happy family is being heard across the county. Whether they were families of fitness finatics who bounded the two-mile course with their eyes on the prize or the proud parents pushing strollers who stuck close to their kiddos for a family finish, the masses turned out for the morning run.

Shane Wall, a physical therapist with the Stephenville hospital who helped head up the event, said Saturday's crowd was a "huge turnout." Wall said 600 participants took part in this year's event.

"The (participation) numbers have continued to grow every year," Wall said, adding the first annual event, which was held in 2005 welcomed less than 200 entrants. "Last year, there were just less than 400 participants."

The one-of-a-kind event shows the unwavering attitude Texas Health Stephenville has toward disease prevention and promoting healthy lifestyles for all ages. Wall said the hospital funds the entire run as a way to give back to the City of Champions and uses the opportunity to instill healthy habits and battle growing childhood health concerns, such as childhood obesity.

"Exercise should begin at a young age and that is the message we are trying to get out to the kids and families of the community," Wall said. "This event is a win - win for the entire community."

One physical education teacher who works to instill healthy habits in the lives of school kids on a daily basis said the annual event is the perfect way to spread the message beyond the halls of education.

“We (the Stephenville ISD) appreciate this opportunity to join together with Texas Health Stephenville to help our students and their families spend a Saturday morning being active,” Wade Whitehead, physical education teacher at Chamberlin Elementary School said prior to the event. “This is a great way to start incorporating more activity as a family, particularly around the holidays when most events are focused on food.”

The hospital schedules the event for late-November to allow the health-conscious message to be heard as children are coming down from the sugar-induced Halloween high and ready to take on the seemingly never-ending Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday menus.

And fall's cooler temperatures offer the perfect time of year for families to kick off healthier habits.

“This time of year is a great time for families to make time for walks together where they can enjoy quality family time while getting in some physical activity,” Wall said. “The fall is also a good time to start nightly walks because the air has cooled off from the summer months, while typically still being warm enough for little ones to tag along."

In promoting the Fun Run, the hospital targets the habits of families that include the littlest learners - kindergarten - sixth grade students - by awarding first - fifth place medals to the top five finishers in each class. See results inside.

In an effort to encourage more families to participate, a campus-wide competition encourages SISD students to sign up the whole family. Wall said since the first annual event, the hospital has awarded a traveling banner to the campus with the largest turnout.

This year, Chamberlin Elementary kept the banner, which the campus was also awarded in 2009 as more signed up to support SISD's first and second grade students than any other school.

"Chamberlin won the traveling school champion banner with 174 participants," Wall said. "Central Elementary came in second with 81."

In all, Wall said 333 school-aged children participated in the fun Run with an estimated 267 parents and other adults showing their support to the physical education effort.

The Fun/Run continues to benefit area schools even after the last participant crosses the finish line as funds raised through registration fees are returned to area schools. And no child is left behind. Students who receive free and reduced lunches through their schools are not required to pay a registration fee to take part in the run.

Wall said an estimated $4,000 will be given back to local schools to help improve upon their physical education departments.

"All of the proceeds go back to the local schools' individual physical education departments to help them promote health and wellness on a daily basis," Wall said.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville?Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville is a 98-bed acute care, full-service facility serving Erath and surrounding counties since 1926. The hospital's services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, women’s services, advanced diagnostic imaging, inpatient and outpatient physical therapy and wound care. Texas Health Stephenville, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, has been recognized as a Nurse-Friendly Hospital and a Level IV Trauma Center. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Stephenville.

About Texas Health Resources?Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 13 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Presbyterian and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health is a partner in eight additional hospitals or surgery centers. Texas Health Physicians Group provides a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health SingleSource Staffing is a joint venture designed to help Texas Health hospitals improve patient care by recruiting and retaining quality nurses and allied healthcare professionals. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.