The Fox Journal

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Holiday 5K benefits arthritis foundation

By Jordan Veith

Participants cross the finish line at the third annual Jingle Bell run/walk on Oct. 9.

Photo by Jordan Veith
Participants cross the finish line at the
third annual Jingle Bell run/walk on Oct. 9.

UW- Fox Valley hosted the third annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk on Oct. 9. The event is used to raise funds and awareness for fighting arthritis.

More than 400 runners, walkers, and supporters joined the 5K run/walk to donate time and money for funds supporting arthritis research.

"Money raised from the Jingle Bell Run goes towards research, programs and services. There is not a cure for arthritis but we're getting closer. In Wisconsin there are 1.1 million adults with arthritis and over 6,000 children," Phil Melnarik, community development manager for the Arthritis Foundation-Green Bay, said.

More than $26,000 was raised at this years event, almost $1,000 more than the desired goal.

Although the event is over, donations will continue to come in from the Fox Valley area to support the Jingle Bell Walk/Run and Arthritis Foundation. Donations are hoped to reach close to $30,000.

Volunteers of up to 75 people donated their time to registration, encouragement, and hydration of all event participants.

"I love it…getting to cheer everybody on. I love the costumes. [I am] working the dog walking station. Everybody is really nice... they're all thanking us!" second year volunteer Molly McGillis said.

Participants enjoyed multiple aspects being a part of the 5K.

"It's a fun and nice paced run... I know there is a crying need, as a matter-of-fact a good friend of mine just got diagnosed [with arthritis]... and it's a really neat run because everybody dresses up and it makes it a little more fun than usual," event participant Cec Corbett said.

"Seeing the people out, you know, it's a great feeling to see people get out the spirit to do it," event participant Mary Schafer said.

Participants were encouraged to wear holiday inspired attire for the event and bring along their four-legged friends as well.

"Participants dress up as presents, plenty of Christmas tutus, lots of ugly sweaters, Santa beards, antlers, and of course every participant receives jingle bells to wear during the race," Melnarik said.

Participant Melanie Jayjack dressed head-to-toe as an elf along with her friends.

"It was really good... if it weren't so windy it would have been a lot nicer. We will definitely do it again though," Jayjack said.

Each year, new ideas are brought to the Jingle Bell Run/Walk to encourage more participants in joining.

"We try to add new fun elements to the Jingle Bell Run each year such as costume contests or ugly sweater contests, we also added chip timing this year which went over well," Melnarik said.

"My daughter invited me to join her and her friends and to dress up... it is really nice to see the community coming together like this," Janet Koene, first time event participant, said.

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk was supported by many sponsors including 103.9 WVBO, the Hand-to-Shoulder Center of Wisconsin, Anytime Fitness, and UW-Fox Valley.

People can expect inspiration and good feelings from being a part of the Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

"Whether you've been to our Jingle Bell Run before or not, I ask that you help us take the steps necessary to find a cure. It's heartbreaking to hear how arthritis changes people's lives," Melnarik said.

"Kids who are taking steroids and injections daily, unable to get out of bed in the morning or able to play with their friends because of arthritis, it's hard to see. It's inspiring to be able to help them, hear their story, and raise awareness about arthritis with them."

For information on volunteering, sponsoring, or participating in upcoming events, please contact Phil Melnarik at 920-330-0592 or pmelnarik@arthritis.org.

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