It had been a cold and wet weekend, but Sunday morning the rain ended and the temperature rose to an unseasonably warm 44 degrees for the annual Jingle Bell Run. This year’s race at Kankakee Community College drew an estimated 450 runners and walkers, raising about $25,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.
Drew Rogers, a Herscher High School freshman from Buckingham, was the overall winner in 17 minutes 25.4 seconds. Rogers had finished 11th at the Illinois High School Association Class 1A State Cross Country earlier this fall.
The winner among women was Laura Krasa, of Urbana, a repeat winner in 17:37.9. In high school, she ran for Judah Christian and was the state 3,200 meter champ in track.
The Jingle Bell in Kankakee is one of a half dozen races she runs.
“I love it,” she said. ‘There is a beautiful stretch along the Kankakee River. It’s a pretty course.”
While the race has been going on for 28 years, it was the first for Caroline Passalino, the new development manager for the Arthritis Foundation. She was immensely thankful the weather changed after a very raw late November.
The Jingle Bell includes a 5K run; a 5K walk, which was won by Sarah Berns in 40 minutes 50.4 seconds; and an untimed fun walk. Competitive race results are posted on ItsRaceTime.com and fundraising results are posted on jbr.org/Kankakee.
While the event is a competitive race, it’s also billed as holiday fun. Costumes and ugly Christmas sweaters are encouraged.
The Nolan Casino family, of Bourbonnais, ran as elves. Dan Combs, of Bourbonnais, was the Grinch. Tracy Kelch and Karen Boehrnsen came as matching holiday fireplaces. All won costume awards.
Jessica O’Connor, of Frankfort, won the ugly Christmas sweater event with a garment she had picked up at Goodwill.
Dr. Ryan Sullivan, of OAK Orthopedics, was the medical honoree, the first time someone has been in that position in several years. He helped raise money and participants for the charity, noting that he works against arthritis.
He encourages people to stay fit and active to battle arthritis. When it’s necessary, he repairs and replaces hips and knees at OAK.
“Arthritis is a progressive and disabling disease,” he said. “It directly affects a person’s quality of life.”
The local race is supported by sponsors and volunteers, meaning that just about all of the funds raised through fees and donations go directly to the Arthritis Foundation. Chicago Dough, Oberweis, Jewel, Culligan, the Bennett-Curtis House, the City of Kankakee, the Marine Corps League, Bakers Square, the Hilton Garden Inn, Sun Loan, Cigna, OAK, The Daily Journal, WVLI, Riverside Medical and Nissan are among the local sponsors and in-kind contributors.