Tom O'Connor doesn't usually start his day jogging outside his office.

But on Thursday morning the development director for Leg Up Farm traded his work clothes for running gear.

He set out to cover more than 3 miles throughout the 18-acre therapy center's campus in Mount Wolf, preparing for a 5K that will be hosted on the property next week.

"It's my first run in over a year, so I need to train," he said.

The race is part of a new 5k series being hosted by local farms to benefit Leg Up Farm, which serves children with disabilities.

"We really do rely on community support," O'Connor said.

The races will probably yield more than $2,000 for Leg Up Farm, and that money will be used to help keep services affordable and accessible, he said.

More than 1,200 children have been treated at Leg Up Farm, which last year hosted more than 20,000 therapy appointments, O'Connor said.

Leg Up Farm funds its programming without any state or federal money. The facility's operating income is from foundations, grants, insurance reimbursements, individual contributions and community events such as the 5K.

The work the facility does is what attracted event organizer Hal Dar. A 66-year-old runner and activities director for the York Road Runners club, the York Township resident said he liked the idea of a run through the countryside, and believes in the vision set forth by Leg Up Farm CEO Lou Castriota.

"I've always appreciated what Leg Up Farm is doing. I knew (Castriota) when he was a kid, and to see him grow up and do this impresses me," Darr said.

The series: The Leg Up Farm Cross Country Series kicked off Saturday, March 22, with the 8K Perrydell Farms Mudfest at Perrydell Farm and Dairy in York Township.

Perrydell has hosted four races in the past, but never one to benefit Leg Up Farm. The race last month attracted 120 runners, Darr said.

A second race, the Brown's Spring Blossom 5K Mudfest, will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Brown's pick-your-own orchards at 8773 Yellow Church Road in Seven Valleys.

As of Thursday, more than 100 people were signed up for the race at Brown's, and Darr expected more to sign up the morning of the race.

"If it's not raining, we'll probably have 30 more people sign up on race day," he said.

Stan Brown, owner of Brown's, said he's looking forward to hosting a race in his fruit orchards.

"We've never had a run here through our fields. I can tell you mudfest is right. It will be muddy," he said.

Brown said he's hoping for a dry, sunny day for the runners.

"Hopefully more will come out. Anything to help Leg Up Farm," he said.

Leg Up Farm will host the final race in the series next week. The 5K Leg Up Farm Mudfest will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the therapy center, 4880 N. Sherman St.

Perrydell is home to the longest run, Brown's has the steepest, prettiest run, and Leg Up Farm offers more of a plateau and trip through the woods, Darr said.

"There are some great views. It's a great reason to get people out to do something healthy and support a good cause," he said.

—Reach Candy Woodall at