Old Dominion University is kicking off the holidays in a festive way as it hosts the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk. The event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, and check-in starts at 7:30 a.m. The Jingle Bell Run/Walk includes a Reindeer Run for children, a 5K Chip-timed Run and a 3K Walk. Holiday themed costumes, reindeer antlers and jingle bells are encouraged.
Planning the event is a tedious task, especially since the foundation is only run by volunteers and two women, Angela Courtney and Kathy Davis. Davis, the data manager specialist, handles the bookkeeping and also helps Courtney, the area branch director, with the events. They have worked together for eight years.
Davis praised ODU’s marketing department and credits them for spreading the word around campus.
“We really haven’t been able to get into this avenue, so it’s nice to have somebody there at the school,” Davis said.
Professor Jennifer Hoyt’s public relations class has been in charge of promoting the Jingle Bell Run/Walk this semester, and fliers can be seen all over campus. The students meet every week to discuss new ideas on how to further spread the word.
“They’ve done a great job,” Davis said.
Davis began working with the Arthritis Foundation because she needed a part-time job, but as time went on, she realized how much she enjoyed being a part of such a great cause.
“It makes your job more rewarding because you’re able to connect with these children and give back,” Davis said.
Courtney joined the Arthritis Foundation after a close friend of hers was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
“I didn’t know what rheumatoid arthritis was,” Courtney said. She started researching the disease and found a job opening. She decided to make a job change to see if she could make a difference.
“So many people don’t understand the severity of arthritis,” Courtney said. The main focus of the event is to raise awareness and to help fund more research.
The Arthritis Foundation focuses on three main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. Finally, juvenile arthritis is any form of arthritis that is diagnosed in children under 18.
The Jingle Bell Run/Walk focuses on educating the public about juvenile arthritis, and every year, the event features a new little hero to tell his/her story. Education is a big part of the event because many people do not realize that arthritis does not discriminate and can affect all ages.
“It never fails. The young person will say ‘I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.’ The whole room goes quiet,” Courtney said.
The Jingle Bell Run/Walk will end with food and drinks in the North Café, as well as raffle prizes and team awards.
Registration for the 5K run or the 3K walk is $30, and registration for the Reindeer Run is $15. Those who register will receive a long sleeve t-shirt, goodie bag, food & drinks. Volunteers are also needed, and donations are accepted. Students can register for the event or learn more about how to get involved at www.jinglebellrunnorfolk.kintera.org.
By: Eryn Tolley