The seventh annual I Haiti My Christmas Sweater 5K had a tremendous turnout despite the ongoing pandemic and sweltering heat on Saturday, July 18.

Coordinator Mary Phil Illges and Carol Goad had over 200 participants signed up including several virtual teams. Groups signed up virtually were responsible for completing the 5K on their own within the next two weeks. This option was made available in light of the coronavirus for the people who still wanted to be involved but allowed for social distancing.

The Haiti 5K goes toward the funding and support of an orphanage in Emanuel, Haiti which currently has over 50 children in their facility. Last year’s run and silent auction raised over $25,000. The funds from this event have helped with the construction of the orphanage and a church, as well as starting businesses in the area to create jobs for the kids as they become adults.

“Some of the things we’ve done with the race (are) we did a playground at the orphanage one year. Last year, we added on to the boys’ transition home. We’ve done things like sewing machines, new mattresses for the kids, we’ve done all kinds of stuff,” Illges said. “It’s really cool how we can do different things every year with the proceeds.”

The “Christmas in July” theme was sponsored by a number of local businesses who either donated money or items to be used in the online silent auction. Both Pelican’s Snoballs and The Feed Meal food trucks were on site for refreshments throughout the race.

The event began with the 10 years old and under, one-mile kids “fun run.” The kids were led in a series of humorous stretches and a prayer before the start of the race.

The 5K began with a pandemic-conscious start, having racers spread out three runners per chalk line spaced behind the starting line. Every runner’s number bib had a child’s name written on it who was being supported by the race’s proceeds.

“(We) do this for the kids. We support an orphanage with about 50 kids, and we have transition homes, one for the boys and one for the girls, as they age out of the two different orphanages to prepare them for life on their own,” Illges said.

The 5K over male winner was Jacob Carrigan, 39, completing the race in 17.30 minutes followed by the female winner Rene Aldrich, 40, with a time of 25.24 minutes. The overall winners each received a $100, and the male and female age group winners were awarded a metal to commemorate their participation.


Winners by age group:


Female 10 and under

1st- Kate Hancock, 6

2nd- Reece Hancock, 8


Male 10 and under

1st- Ethan Reyes, 10

2nd- Lee Hancock, 10

Female 11-20

1st- Mei Lin Dye, 19

2nd- Emily Hickman, 18

3rd- Sarah Hayden Curry, 20


Male 11-20

1st- Parker Breitling, 14

2nd- Luke Taylor, 16

3rd- Nate Swann, 18

Female 21-30

1st- Tess Illges, 25

2nd- Lindsey Curry, 23

3nd- Ellen Kennedy, 25

Male 21-30

1st- Dylon Kenney, 28

2nd- Mat Illges, 26

3rd- Matt Miller, 30

Female 31-40

1st- Amy Reyes, 40

2nd- Sabrina Lash, 36

3rd- Meia Hamill, 36

Male 31-40

1st- Javier Reyes, 38

2nd- Cliff Collins, 38

3rd- Barry West, 38

Female 41-50

1st- Kara Merriam, 45

2nd- Andrea Sonnabend, 48

3rd- Amber Patterson


Male 41-50

1st- Dan Rosenthal, 47

2nd- Benjamin Lorenzo, 48


Female 51-60

1st-Tamra Smith, 60

2nd- Cathy Smith, 52

3rd- Val Harper, 58


Male 51-60

1st- Matt Fields, 52

2nd- Michael Brosnan, 53

3rd- Francis Gooch, 51


Female 61 and over

1st- Gail Frazier, 67

2nd- Lisa Jones, 61

3rd- Debbie Bell, 65


Male 61 and over

1st- Jay Swafford, 66

2nd- Mike Hendley, 64

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