This recap was submitted by teen Run Oregon reader Ellie Y. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you want to get involved.
Jingle bells, men in Mrs. Claus dresses, and ugly Christmas sweaters spread as far as the eye can see. A rush of holiday spirit stampedes through the streets of Portland. This is the Jingle Bell Run. Typically held the first Sunday in December, the Jingle Bell Run is a timed 5K that is sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation. This year’s race kicked off on December 7th, a rare sunny day that was enjoyed by the pack of runners and walkers.
This event has been part of my family’s holiday traditions for twelve years — since I was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis (JA) when I was two. Most people don’t know that children can get arthritis, too. About 300,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of JA.
JA is an autoimmune disease that causes my immune system to attack my joints. For me, it’s mostly focused on my big toe, knees, and jaw, which can make me feel like an old person. Right now, there’s no known cause or cure for Juvenile Arthritis.
That’s where the Jingle Bell Run comes in. We raise money to help find these answers. Also, this events helps fund a FREE family camp for kids who live with JA so they don’t have to feel all alone.
In the last twelve years, I’ve gone from being pushed through the streets of Portland in a baby jogger to running it myself. I’ve watched the walk grow from a small event that mainly families with arthritis did to something much bigger than all of us.
Every year, my mom and I get together a team of her friends and mine. Some are competitive runners who race marathons, while others walk with their families. It’s really cool to know that people are there to support me. I love seeing all the other runners and walkers who have come together to support people THEY care about – especially when they coordinate costumes.
For me, it is no longer just about raising money to fight the disease — but a fun, festive way to start the season. The Jingle Bell Run joins together friends and families to get their heart rate going and put their bells on — all for a wonderful cause.
It’s not too late to make donations to this event online atwww.portlandjinglebellrun.org.