Today's 34th annual Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk will have a reality TV twist to it.
Ruben Studdard, winner of the second season of "American Idol," will sing both at the start of the Mount Pleasant-to-downtown Charleston race and later at the post-race festival at Marion Square. And nine past winners and contestants of "The Biggest Loser" show arrived Thursday to jog and walk with youngsters in the Louie's Kids program.
After Heba and Ed Salama came to the Bridge Run last year, they enticed other former show participants to this year's race, including Season 5 winner Ali Vincent, season nine winner Michael Ventrella, season five at home winner Bernie Salazar, season eight at home winner Rebecca Meyer, and season six participants Stacy Capers and Vicky and Brady Vilcan.
The Salamas live in Raleigh, and Ed used to be a chef in Charleston.
The group have made several appearances since arriving in Charleston, including a surprise meeting with city of Charleston employees who have lost a total of 910 pounds and at the Bridge Run's press luncheon Friday.
Bridge Run Hall of Fame
At the luncheon, three people were inducted in the Bridge Run Hall of Fame, which was started nine years ago as part of the 25th annual Bridge Run.
Those inductees include the following: Randy Brown, a volunteer and the only person to serve on the Bridge Run board in two capacities, for the Charleston Running Club and the College of Charleston; Ted Summerford, former Mount Pleasant Recreation Department Director and Bridge Run board member; and the late John Conroy, the Charleston police chief who was supportive of the Bridge Run in its beginning.
Also at the luncheon, several checks were awarded to local charities supported by the Bridge Run and its sponsors.
Event sponsors Chick-fil-A and Bi-Lo presented checks of $10,000 and $7,063, respectively, to the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital.
The Bridge Run's Charity Connection presented preliminary checks to its chosen charities, including $14,000 for the American Cancer Society, $12,500 for MUSC Children's Hospital, $8,300 for the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, $6,200 for Komen Lowcountry, $4,000 for Camp Happy Days, $3,000 for Louie's Kids, $2,400 for Coastal Crisis Ministries and $1,300 for the Charleston Miracle League.