Before the third annual Firehouse Run began at Santa Clara University on Dec. 10, some runners and walkers warmed up with modified sun salutations and low impact muscle drills with Elisabeth Schipper and Torrie Ornelas from Santa Clara’s CorePower Yoga. After former Miss Silicon Valley Melissa Gialdini’s voice filled the campus with the National Anthem, then the 5K and 10K races began. Livening the atmosphere with upbeat oldies hits was Uncle Dave and the Turnouts, a band comprised of firefighters from the Santa Clara Fire Department.
About 1,200 people of all ages participated in the race. All proceeds from the race will be donated to the Santa Clara Schools Foundation to support schools in the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD). Additional donations will go to the Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation.
Council Member Teresa O’Neill, Vice President of the Santa Clara Schools Foundation and former SCUSD board member, was present at the race with other foundation members, including Assistant Chief of Police Dan Winter, SCUSD parent Kelli Hohenbrink and former SCUSD Board Member Elise DeYoung.
“We’re very grateful to the Firefighters Foundation’s dedication; the Firehouse Run is a way to reach many people in the community and that’s through helping the schools,” O’Neill said and named a few of the many programs the donated money will serve. “The raised funds will go toward paying for Wilcox High School kids to go to the Computer History Museum. We’re paying in the near future for Opera San Jose to come to Peterson Middle School to help students learn about opera. Almost every year we pay for Cabrillo Middle School to publish their literary magazine.”
O’Neill, who did a 5K walk, noted that the Firehouse Run engaged members of all age groups and allowed them to be active in the community.
“There were district employees here—teachers, administrators, and school staff,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing children walking and running.”
Indeed, young people were active participants in the Firehouse Run. After the awards ceremony for participants in the 5K and 10K races, a free Junior Firefighters Race, also known as the Children’s Fun Run, kept the momentum of the event going.
“Any kid can sign up for the general 5K run or the 10K run and then on top of that, we have a free Junior Firefighters Race,” said Chris Eichhorn, firefighter and race director working with the Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation. “It’s usually run by kids who are 10 and under. I’ve had my kids do it and there are kids I’ve seen as young as two-years-old running it. It’s about an eighth of a mile. It starts at the start line of the race and it finishes at the finish line of the race. It’s on the same course as the 5K and the 10K.”
Before the Junior Firefighters Race began, an estimated 150 kids gathered near the original start line for the earlier races. Then they took off and headed toward the finish line at Stevens Stadium’s Buck Shaw Field. Although this race lasted just a few minutes and was considerably shorter than the earlier races, the high energy of the young runners was evident. A crew of firefighters from Santa Clara’s Fire Station 1 put medals on all the kids to congratulate them on their success getting through the finish line.