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The Spirit of Giving

Stay fit, be festive and join local charities to fight hunger and provide access to city-wide programs all year round at the Spirit of Giving Jingle Bell 5K Run and Walk.  

Members of the ShadowChase Running Club and the City of Modesto’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department will kick off the 6th annual event on Dec. 12. Nearly 1,500 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes will gather at Modesto’s 10th Street Plaza dressed in their seasonal best and ready to race. The event promises festive fun for all ages with activities including the namesake Jingle Bell 5K run/walk, and a free quarter mile run/walk for children who wish to chase the Grinch out of Modesto. Attendees can also expect snow, a diversity of vendors and Christmas booths, music, and several photo ops with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The lineup will also include the second annual wheelchair challenge. The division, created by local wheelchair athlete and ShadowChase member AJ Mitchell, challenges both able-bodied runners and wheelchair athletes to compete.

“I hope to show others the real difference in our daily lives,” said Mitchell.

The race offers a chance to create awareness, and have fun said Mitchell.

But you do not have to run, roll or walk to show your support. All are welcome to sponsor, volunteer or donate. Monetary proceeds will fund scholarships for low-income youth, seniors and adults with disabilities to participate in city-wide sports, art and dance classes. Food items go to the Modesto Gospel Mission, which cares for the city’s homeless men, women and children throughout the year.

Come with canned food and receive raffles tickets for a chance to win a variety of prizes, or entrance for children into a free movie at the Brenden Theater. The more the merrier, as those with 10 items or more are entered to win the mystery grand prize.

Since 2010, the Jingle Bell Run has raised approximately $100,000 for local charities, said the event’s co-founder Barbara Miller. Miller is a longtime runner and member of Modesto’s ShadowCase Running Club. As a world class athlete, she has claimed several titles including two inductions into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

“Although I have competed in many other cities, I really believe our Modesto area has many quality races,” said Miller.

However, she noticed the region needed a big Christmas Run. Together with fellow ShadowCase runner Mike Araiza, they combined forces with The City of Modesto to create a 5K designed for people of all ages and abilities.

In addition to raising funds and collecting food, the event has become a favorite for elementary and high school students. Maria Montejano, a teacher at Turlock’s Wakefield Elementary and co-founder of Love in Action Running Club, brings several students to the Jingle Bell 5K. Montejano said that participation in this race and similar events teaches students the value of giving, goal setting and good citizenship.

“A great citizen is anyone who is willing to make a difference for others. Giving food to those in need is a great example of doing our part... and it is such a satisfaction to know we can all make a difference.”


WHAT: The Spirit of Giving Jingle Bell 5K Run and Walk
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. Dec. 12
WHERE: 10th Street Plaza, Downtown Modesto
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