Max and Jake's Big Race

 Jerilyn Hammerstrom and Paula Cook share a special bond and friendship. Both of their sons were born with heart defects. And both had their hearts made whole at Rady Children’s Heart Institute.

The two women met more than a decade ago, when the Cooks moved in across the street from the Hammerstroms. As their families grew, so did their friendship. When Jerilyn’s son Max was 14 months old, he underwent open heart surgery at Rady Children’s to repair a hole in his heart. Two years later, Paula’s son Jake had a similar procedure when he was 2.

To fulfill their wish of helping other families going through a similar ordeal – and to give back to the Heart Institute – Jerilyn and Paula coordinated Max and Jake’s Big Race for seven years and raised more than $250,000 for the Heart Institute at Rady Children's. Watching their sons cross the finish line was something they thought they would never see. Now that the Cook family has moved to another city, Max and Jake's Big Race is called Run to the Max, but it will always be powered by Max and Jake's Big Race.

To learn more about the race or to participate, visit