Mt. Vernon Register-News


December 5, 2011

Run benefits Arthritis Foundation

More than 400 runners and walkers jingled their way past the records at the sixth annual Jingle Bell Run.

The run, held at Rend Lake College, drew in more than $17,000 to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, said director Paula Reeves.

“We broke all records,” she said. “We had 400 preregistered and we have at least 450 today, maybe closer to 500. I am so thankful to everyone who came out today.”

She said the previous record for the event’s attendance was 256.

Many runners and walkers not only tied jingle bells to their shoes, but dressed to match their holiday spirit.

One large group of women from Dr. Kyle Childers’ orthodontics offices dressed in black pants and silver tinsel around their arms and waists.

“We all work together and we decided to come out,” said Stephanie Pinkham of Wilkeytown.

Susan Haithcoat of Benton said their group had one runner and the rest were walkers.

“We wanted to get into the fundraiser for the office,” she said. “We’ve never done it before, it’s our first time. We just wanted to help.”

Jingle Bell Runs are taking place throughout the country to raise money to find a cure for arthritis, she said.

“Bells are ringing across the nation,” Reeves said. “The bells represent the sound of hope for a cure for arthritis.”

Runners and walkers received jingle bells they could attach to their shoes for the race.

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, according to the Rend Lake College Jingle Bell Run website.

“I have been inspired by so many people fighting against this disease,” Reeves said. “My husband’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her 30s, and I’ve watched the disease progress for 30 years.”

Sponsors of the event were Orthopedics of Southern Illinois, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc., Old National Bank, Ohley Medical Supply, and Southern Illinois Rheumatology, Reeves said.

Prizes were awarded to first, second and third place in each age group. A 3K “Reindeer Run” was also held for youth on the Rend Lake College track, Reeves said.

“Fifty million Americans have some form of arthritis,” Reeves said. “Each step these runners took today gets us one step closer to a cure.”

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