An employee at the Elope Costume Company, Chelise Foster was hiking in Waldo Canyon two weeks before the worst wildfire in Colorado Springs history burned the precious area.
Waldo Canyon left an impression on her. When the smoke columns covered the sky and homes burned, she knew she had to help.
On Sunday (Oct. 21, 2012), her idea to create the Waldo Waldo 5K blossomed into a community event of more than 1,000 runners dressed as Waldo.
"My personal goal was 250, so I am extremely touched and overwhelmed," she said. "I never dreamed it would be this big in the first year."
She enlisted the help of Randi Hitchcock of UpaDowna, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that works to help people enjoy the outdoors. On a tight deadline, they planned the race. It was a hit.
Funds raised will go to the Waldo Canyon Firefighters Fund. The success of the first race convinced Foster to make it an annual event.
"We're going to do it again next year," she said.