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Celebrate Jacksonville Festival Saturday morning at the Jacksonville Community Center. A 5K color run, music and vendors were part of the festival with the proceeds benefiting storm recovery from the March 19 tornado. Caitlyn Ryan,18, was in charge of tossing colored paint dust onto runners. Photo by Bill Wilson/ The Anniston Star

JACKSONVILLE —  By the time Christine Jenkyn, 36, crossed the finish line Saturday morning her face was barely recognizable.

Jenkyn and her family had just finished the 5K color run which was part of the Celebrate Jacksonville Festival to benefit storm recovery from March 19 tornado; a night that Jenkyn will never forget.

“We lost everything that night,” she said.

Jenkyn’s face was a living testament to the artist Pablo Picasso — layers upon layers of colored “paint” had been thrown on her during the course of the 5K — yellows, greens, reds and about every other color caked her smiling face.

Jenkyn — who lives in Pleasant Valley — recalled the events that took place the night of March 19.

“I work at Anniston Medical Clinic and they closed early that day and sent us home,” Jenkyn said.

“We were actually getting in the car to go home because we didn’t think anything was coming and I heard it over the radio and decided to go back and get in the storm shelter,” said Jenkyn.

“Within 30 minutes everything was gone,” Jenkyn said.

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For Jenkyn the loss was harder because   she was rebuilding everything from a previous marriage, “So we lost everything all over again,” Jenkyn said.

More than 200 runners participated in the color run, which Jenkyn called “amazing.” After the run, Jenkyn and her daughter Madi, 15, were laughing and plastering each other with more paint dust, which was given to all runners once they crossed the finish line.

It was that frivolity that Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith was hoping for.

“March 19 changed a lot of things for the people of Jacksonville with the tornado. Lot of people still hurting, suffering,” Smith said.

Smith said the Jacksonville Arts Council came up with the idea of a festival to benefit the recovery effort. The celebration included 24 vendors, a kids zone, music and the color run.

“Thought it might help some people relax a little bit,” Smith said.

Caitlyn Ryan, 18, a lifeguard at the Jacksonville Community center and her friend Taylor Cochran, 21, were in charge of throwing paint at the runners as they jogged by on the last leg of the 5K.

“It feels good that the community can come together and raise money for something important — especially to the town of Jacksonville because of all the things going on — the tornado,” Ryan said.

“It just feels good to be able to be a part of something bigger than me,” said Ryan.

Ryan lives in northeast Jacksonville and did not have any damage from the storm but one street over houses were completely destroyed.

“It really was close to home,” Ryan said.

Denise Moore, 52, from Chulafinnee,  was one of the vendors who were setting up Saturday morning. Moore was selling her handmade jewelry and art and was glad to be a part of the festival.

“They need all the help they can get...makes me feel great to participate in this,” Moore said.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.