Bearded, running Santas still needed to help raise money for area nonprofits as McHenry County Santa Run for Kids goes virtual

A flock of purple fits and white beards will not be dashing by downtown Crystal Lake after the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the ninth annual McHenry County Santa Run for Kids to go virtual.

The 5K race, which was began eight years in the past by the Kiwanis Club, attracts a whole lot of Santas and raises upwards of $30,000 yearly for nonprofits, together with Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, Turning Point, Girls on the Run of Northwest Illinois, Main Stay Therapeutic Farm and Court Appointed Special Advocates of McHenry County.

With all the state going to Tier three COVID-19 mitigations, the race organizers had to cancel their plans and change to a virtual format.

“Frustrated, like a punch within the abdomen,” organizer Mike Splitt. “Now we’re form of dancing, making an attempt to discover virtual runners, nevertheless it’s not the identical.”

McHenry County Santa Run for Kids is one in all three linked 5Ks, together with the Bob Blazier Raue Run and McHenry County Patriot Run, aimed toward elevating money for in danger and challenged households in the neighborhood.

Before the Bob Blazier Raue Run and McHenry County Patriot Run, each accomplished in September, the three 5Ks had already raised greater than $800,000 mixed over the previous eight years, Splitt mentioned. A complete of $1 million was anticipated to be raised for the companies by the tip of 2023.

That estimate could now change, relying how the pandemic impacts the turnout for the Santa Run for Kids, initially scheduled for the primary week of December.

Based on different virtual races within the county and surrounding areas, Splitt mentioned he expects a couple of 40% to 45% lower in participation this 12 months, though he hopes for extra runners regardless of the apparent limitations and fewer attraction of going virtual.

Over the years, the race expanded with extra members, spectators and Christmas aptitude, together with big inflatable Santas and volunteers ringing bells and passing out espresso and donuts.

“It’s one of the crucial enjoyable issues you are able to do,” Splitt mentioned. “You go to the eating places after (the race) and see all the folks carrying their Santa fits and beards, filling up eating places, filling up on espresso and donuts. It’s enjoyable how it has a ripple impact like that.

“It’s actually one thing … the ocean of purple running by the streets. People have a good time. It’s clear wholesome enjoyable for households.”

Even earlier than the state moved to Tier three mitigations, Splitt mentioned he was seeing a ripple impact of the pandemic. The race usually has 70 to 75 volunteers, however some have been having doubts due to the rising variety of coronavirus circumstances.

“All of a sudden, we had some folks dropping out,” Splitt mentioned. “Some persons are extra excessive danger than others. I’m considering, ‘How can we make it work?’ But it simply turned out of my management at that time. I believed we have been popping out of the woods, however we aren’t. I’m certain subsequent spring or summer time, issues will loosen up and we will return to some semblance of normalcy.”

The Bob Blazier Raue Run and Patriot Run have been accomplished with out incident, Splitt mentioned. They tailored by requiring COVID-19 signs checks, masks and sending off runners in waves of 50.

He understands why they have to modify once more, nevertheless it was a troublesome capsule to swallow, with the race organizers getting ready months prematurely. This 12 months, particularly, was tough with the uncertainty due to the pandemic.

“We have to be secure, and we’ve to consider the protection of all of the members,” Splitt mentioned. “Each participant can do their 5K, put up an image and put it on social media. They can put up their occasions, see how they did with their friends and age group and still have some good feeling about elevating money for a very good trigger.”

This 12 months will not be the identical, however the trigger is what issues most, Splitt mentioned. Some sponsors have not too long ago come ahead to help out.

“Hopefully, we will still do our half and help hold these companies afloat,” Splitt mentioned. “Because if there’s no money, there’s no mission for these companies, they can not fulfill their mission assertion. We began these races to accommodate these teams, and that is what we’re going to do.”

To enroll for the Santa Run for Kids or extra data, contact Mike Splitt at 815-459-1773 or [email protected] Participants can run the 5K, stroll one mile and report occasions and footage to the McHenry County Santa Run for Kids web site at

Runs could be accomplished by Dec. 14 and donations could be made instantly on the race’s web site. More data could be discovered on the McHenry County Santa Run for Kids’ Facebook web page at

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