It was bundle-up time at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning as 435 registered runners lined up outside the West Roxbury YMCA for the Parkway Running Club’s 22nd annual Walter’s Run 5K, all of them ready to donate their energy and their cash to help give deserving Globe Santa children a reason to smile on Christmas.
Named after Walter Burgess, a beloved club member who passed away unexpectedly in 2003, the race has been raising money for charity since 1994, when it was founded as the Santa Scamper 5K. The Y and the Walter Burgess Scholarship Fund, which sends young runners to the American Running Camp, a one-week overnight summer program in Portsmouth, R.I., also share in the proceeds from the event, which includes a youngsters’ run before the main run.
“Walter was somebody who really was such a spirited member of the running club,” said running club president Jim Sweeney. “When he finished a marathon, he would figure out who else was still out there and run the last mile with them. To him it was the group and the community aspect of it that was so important, so that’s what we’ve tried to build on,” Sweeney added.
The race raised more than $16,000, which will be split among the three beneficiaries, meaning more than $5,000 will be sent to Globe Santa.
“If everybody gives a little bit, we end up with a lot and we get to do a lot for others,” Sweeney said.
Before the race, runners and their families gathered at the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury, just a block from the start of the race. Holiday music played in the main room of the building, where Christmas decorations covered the walls and tables were filled with raffle offerings and warm coffee.
Sarah Kaney, a mother from Jamaica Plain with a 3-year old boy named Walter, decided on a whim to sign up after passing a sign promoting the race.
“It’s always nice to be able to give back,” she said, “even in small ways. . . . We should always be community-minded. It’s especially important this time of year.”
Jennifer Levitz said she signed up for the race with her friend, Amanda Milkovits. They love running in new communities together, she said, and Walter’s Run struck her as a “local runner’s run.”
“For me, it combines what I love to do with doing something good,” she said. “You can’t ask for anything better.”
No, you can’t, and Globe Santa is grateful to all of Walter’s runnersFelicia Gans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Globe Santa on Twitter @GlobeSanta.