Always the first Sunday in December, the Santa Run is a holiday tradition in Crystal Lake.
For the fourth year, runners donned provided Santa suit or a red long-sleeved shirt for the 5K walk/run, which started at the Raue Center for the Arts in downtown Crystal Lake.
Some participants wear their own costumes. Several years included Buddy the Elf costumed runners.
The organizers’ goal was to top 1,000 participants.
Mike Splitt, Crystal Lake, never imagined a lunch invitation with three local women would end in a challenge. Jane Farmer, from Turning Point, Robin Ostrem from Big Brother Big Sister, and Kelly Pokharel from CASA challenged Splitt to use his passion for running to raise money for McHenry County children. That’s how the Kiwanis Santa Run for Kids got started in 2012.
Santa trophies go to the fastest 5K runners, but the object is to have fun running, and of course, to raise funds for local children’s organizations. This year, 20 percent of the funds go to Kiwanis Club, to be distributed to programs serving children in the area. The rest is divided equally among Turning Point, CASA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Main Stay Therapeutics. Last year 981 Santas ran, raising more than $33,000.
Splitt remembers running to and from school when he was in kindergarten at Ridge Elementary in Arlington Heights: run one-half block, walk one-half block, all the way to school and back. By junior high, he was on the cross country and track teams. Running is just part of who he is. Giving back to the community is part of who Splitt is, too. Why the Santa Run?
“Because I can,” he said. “I have a great committee that makes it happen.”
He loves seeing the ripple effect of working together for a common cause.
Splitt grew up in an environment that fostered cooperation and collaboration. Adopted when he was three days old, he has one handicapped sister. His mother died when he was in eighth grade. His father married a widow with 11 children. The couple went on to gift Splitt with three more siblings. That’s 16 siblings with their children and grandchildren at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just using the bathroom is an exercise in cooperation.
Splitt advises young people to get involved and join organizations. Explore a variety of things: debate, sports, chess club, astronomy, and student counsel. Try on any leadership role available.
“It will benefit you and your community,” Splitt said.
The sponsors, participants, and volunteers who pull together for the causes represented are credited for the success of the annual Santa Run.
— Crystal Lake Kiwanis Santa Run is a holly-jolly time for all —