The fifth annual Care Net 5K Reindeer Run/Walk is returning to the riverfront Saturday, Dec. 7.
New this year, the Reindeer Dash, will take place at 9:30 a.m. with the 5K start time set for 10 a.m.. The Reindeer Dash is designed for ages 7 and under. All dash participants will run approximately 50 yards with Santa down the main strip. Each child will receive their own runner’s bib and a finisher medal.
“This year we pushed back the Reindeer Run start time to 10 a.m. to hopefully get more families involved,” said race director Lisa Merritt. “We were also excited to add in a new fun event for the little runners.”
According to Merritt, the route has been updated to make it a true 5K; last year the course was just short of an official 5K. Race organizers hope to see a big turnout again this year. With nearly 500 registrations last year, the community support was strong, Merritt said, and she hopes to grow numbers again this year.
“Many come dressed in fun Christmas costumes. We will have free hot chocolate and snacks. There will be prizes and medals awarded. We want to make it fun—run with your family or with a group of friends,” Merritt said.
In the midst of all the festivities, Merritt wants to make sure the community also recognizes that the event is for a good cause. All proceeds from the Reindeer Run go towards Care Net’s operational expenses. Services include free and confidential pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and STD testing and treatment.
They also offer education and material resources. Merritt says they are seeing more and more clients each year. In fact, Carenet’s visits this year have already surpassed last year with client appointments up by 34 percent.
“Care Net is a nonprofit Christian organization that has been serving our community for 14 years,” Merritt said. “We offer hope, help and compassion to those who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy or with concerns of an STD.”
According to Merritt, this year has been one of excitement. With the help of a supportive community, Care Net has been able to purchase and renovate a new facility. They are working diligently to raise the last bit of funding needed to get the organization into the building debt free. If all goes as planned, the move-in date will be by the end of the year.
“This event is hosted by Care Net, but there are many generous sponsors who make this event possible and a huge success,” she said.
Those interested can register online here or register on race day at Smothers Park. Merritt encourages people to register by Nov. 11 to get an event t-shirt. Race price starts at $25 per adult, $20 per child and $7 for the reindeer dash.
“We are most excited about the community involvement at the Reindeer Run, building relationships within the community we serve and coming together to support the cause of life,” Merritt said.