The winner of the 36th annual Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk design contest has never stepped foot in Lowcountry - until today.
After hearing of her selection earlier this month, 27-year-old Mayela Lopez decided to make the trip from her home in Reston, Va., near Washington, D.C., to Mount Pleasant to attend the unveiling ceremony at 6 p.m. at Alhambra Hall.
Her design - a graphic depiction of the bridge that has similarities to the 2009 design - was selected by a group of about 40 people, mostly representing sponsors of the Bridge Run, from 71 total entries.
In creating the poster, Lopez said she looked at several photographs of the bridge online before coming up with her design and tapped into her background of being raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as formerly working for a screen printing company.
Lopez is a professional graphic designer who works for a Baltimore-based commercial real estate company but also takes on freelance projects.
Her selection was the first that Bridge Run organizers could recall from an out-of-town artist.
Meanwhile, another first marks this year's design contest: a separate design for the Kids Run.
Organizers decided to have a separate design for the Kids Run after Wonder Works, a local children's toy store, joined forces with them to hold the first-ever Cooper River Bridge Run Kids Run and Wonderfest, which will be April 5. The event will add dozens of new activities and perks for youth.
The winning design is actually a re-submission from three or four years ago, depending on who you talk to, created by North Charleston resident Kevin Adcock.
Though it didn't win at the time, the Bridge Run staff liked the design - which Adcock describes as "a homage to King Kong" - so much that they bought it from him for $100 and hung it in the Bridge Run office.
Adcock, who was later selected to coordinate the Kids Run event, didn't even know that the staff had re-submitted it, but was honored to have it be part of the event.
"I think they (the staff) have been wanting to use the picture for awhile," said Adcock, adding that he thinks the Kids Run needs its own shirt and that the design may have been too "outside of the box" for the main event.
Adcock gets $400 for winning the Kids Run design contest, while Lopez will receive $1,000 for her design.