All proceeds benefit the local nonprofit’s emergency utilities fund.
“We live in a very generous and giving community, but they don’t really see the front line. We are here on the front line, which is wonderful because we see the need, and it helps us to be able to provide,” said Sgt. Ruthie Forgey. “[Supporters] don’t see how raw and how authentic these stories are that these people are going through.”
Social services coordinator Jim Welch began the jog three years ago to supplement the emergency utilities fund. The event has grown from an initial 75 joggers to more than 200 in its third year. Welch said he is hoping for over 300 participants this year.
The event has grown to reflect the level of public interest. Trophies for the first through third place winners in the male, female and youth brackets were added last year. The tradition will continue, along with medals being awarded to the top three male and female runners in the following age brackets: 14 and younger, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50 and older.
Welch’s goal is to make each year bigger and better.
“We are going to have an 8’x8’ banner with a bunch of little Jingle Bell Jog logos across it,” Welch said. “They will be able to take their pictures in front of the banner. It is a photo-op for the people who are in the race.”
Those interested in registering for the event may do so through www.csarmy.org. Welch explained the Jingle Bell Jog banner is the fourth one to move across the screen on the initial homepage. The link leads to the official Jingle Bell Jog main page with online registration and additional information.
According to Welch, the Early Bird registration for the 5K and 1 mile walk are available until Dec. 1. The options are either $30 for individuals or $50 for a family of four. Day of race registration fees increase by $5 in both categories. Every participant will be given a Jingle Bell Jog t-shirt and a goody bag.
All participants with a number will have the opportunity to win a variety of door prizes through random selection. Welch revealed the top door prize is a 42” flat screen TV donated by the Big Easy Bar and Grille. Last-minute registration and check-in will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The 5K jog and mile fun run will begin at 10 a.m.
The jog will take place at the Greenway and begin at the Tinsley Park pavillion. Participants in both the 5K and mile walk will begin in separate directions. The walkers will go toward Home Depot and the joggers will take-off toward Cooke’s. Turn-around points will signal to both groups when they should turn around. The 5K track is course certified and will be professionally timed.
Welch explained the goal is for participants to have fun while raising money for those in need.
“Most people work paycheck to paycheck,” Welch said. “You may be making $50,000 a way and in two months not be able to pay your electricity bill.”
Forgey said the harsher winter and summer months can take a toll on families living on a fixed income.
“If you are living in the percentile [living from paycheck to paycheck], and you have a transmission go out in your car, and it is two to three thousand dollars to repair, how are you going to pay to buy groceries?” Forgey asked. “It would put you in such a place of vulnerability and you are already in a vulnerable place.”
She encouraged those interested to get involved.
“I think the Jingle Bell Jog is a family activity that they can join in together to have fun, but also its a worthwhile purpose,” Forgey said. “It is a run and walk with intention. The intention is to help those that need help.”