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Keeping the secret: They all know, but they never spoil the Peachtree T-shirt surprise

The people who pack the secret race t-shirts every year don’t have to be sworn to secrecy--because they believe in the race, and would never leak the sacred info.

One of the many wondrous traditions that have built up during the half-century of the AJC Peachtree Road Race is the absolute secrecy of the big prize that runners receive—the T-shirt handed out to runners in Piedmont Park after they cross the finish line. 

The design changes every year, and every year it is a surprise awaiting every runner. No one loves to keep the secret more than the people who pack the gift bags with the t-shirts. They are the participants and clients of the Atlanta program “IndependenceWORKS” at Atlanta’s Jewish Family and Career Services.

“We work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Abby Frantz, of IndependenceWORKS. 

Beginning in March each year, part-time workers and volunteers package all of the bags containing all of the T-shirts.

Credit: WXIA

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This year they expected to bag somewhere around 65,000 and 70,000 T-shirts. 

"Not only are we trusted with the coveted T-shirt, but we’re trusted with the secret of the T-shirt, as well," Frantz explained. "And that’s very empowering for our clients - that the Atlanta Track Club trusts us enough to accomplish this project.”

Frantz said the people in the program love their mission. They are proud to prove it  and happy to demonstrate it  every time 11Alive comes to visit them and take video of them hard at work. 

They always keep the secret right up until the Fourth of July.