WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Gandara Center’s 8th annual “Frozen Yogurt 5K” was held Sunday morning at Stanley Park in Westfield.

Each year, this frozen yogurt 5K helps raise needed funds for the Gandara Center. Gandara provides bilingual mental health and substance abuse programs statewide, and has a strong presence in western Massachusetts.

Jade Rivera-McFarlin, Director of Marketing and Fund Development at the Gandara Center told 22news that the 5K is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year. “We serve across the state almost 15,000 people in almost 100 locations,” said Rivera-McFarlin.

Hundreds of runners geared up for the 5K just before 9 a.m., with 22News’ own Melissa Torres emceeing.

The impact is felt far beyond the finish line. Those who participated today helped raise funds that go directly towards supporting mental health programs.

One runner told 22News it meant a lot to be a part of the event. “We love looking for local races together that are meant and organized for a good cause where we can support the community, ” said Jocelyn Polinski of Westfield.

Last year, runners raised over $66,000 and the social service agency is appreciative of all the support. “It’s touching right, because each day all the people within the Gandara center, we’re human services so we’re here to help other people,” said Rivera-McFarlin. “But to have people from the community come out, and assist us in doing that and working toward our mission and goals, it’s amazing.”

Lois Nesci, the Gandara Center CEO added, “I think that the communities are understanding the importance of mental health, it’s just as important as physical care and how physical care impacts mental health and mental health, physical care. So we have to have more events, more awareness activities and to speak more in the community about the importance of mental health.”