There’s still time to sign up for Saturday’s Jingle Bell Jog in Prospect Park. The annual event, held by the New York Road Runners (NYRR), raises funds for youth running programs in city public schools; hundreds of middle- and high schoolers will also be running the four-mile race.
Youth participants include students from P.S. 321 in Park Slope, where teacher Nicoletta Nerangis manages nearly 700 enthusiastic Young Runners and Mighty Milers each week.
“These programs give my students such joy, promote their love of running, build friendships, and give them positive focus and goals,” said Nerangis. “Our Young Runners team has become very close and they all look forward to having Saturday’s runners come to their favorite practice spot, Prospect Park.”
Councilmember Brad Lander’s daughter, Rosa, will also be participating, as a member of the P.S. 107 Mighty Milers team. Lander said that he has watched his daughter and her teammates “falling in love in love with running,” logging “more than 7,000 miles since September.”
“Running to them is more than fun and fitness,” he added. “They’ve also used the sport to raise thousands of dollars for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. I’m so proud of all these students.”
Of course, there is also the added health benefits of regular exercise.
“In this era of rampant childhood obesity, getting kids running at an early age, making it a daily part of their lives, is so important,” said Cliff Sperber, executive director of NYRR’s Youth and Community Services, who will join the kids and thousands of other runners on the Jog. “It’s also a fundraiser for the NYRR youth programs, and all proceeds go to funding these programs for our young runners.”
Nearly 105,000 children nationally at 625 schools – 15,000 in 100 Brooklyn schools – are part of the “Young Runners” and “Mighty Milers” programs,
Like last year, runners will get a long-sleeved technical shirt with their registration and jingle bells for their sneakers that sound so much like Santa’s sleigh, passers-by will look to the skies searching for reindeer! At the finish line, young elves will randomly bestow gifts to runners who have the holiday spirit.
Participating runners are also encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys, dropping them off with the Marines at the Toys for Tots tent where they’ll be gifted to children in the city’s neediest neighborhoods.
Local business sponsors include BAM, Jack Rabbit Sports, Shake Shack, and Four and Twenty Blackbirds. See the full list here.
Each entry gives the gift of running and is equivalent to supporting a student in NYRR’s Mighty Milers program for a whole year.