When Madison Lewandowski started Kidz for a Cure in 2008, she never thought she’d see the day when hundreds of local Santas would be running five kilometers to help with her fight against pediatric cancer. The event was the brainchild of Jose Gonzalez, the head of SantaBarbaraActionPro.com, a marathon runner, triathlete and coach.
“I have been wanting to put something together like this in our community for awhile and I think that Kidz for a Cure is the perfect organization to benefit from it,” said Gonzalez. “It’s all about helping kids and who helps kids more than Santa?”
The race starts and finishes at La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara at 8 a.m. on Dec. 2 (rain or shine). Runners can register at http://www.sbactionpro.com/Santa-Claus-Run.html. Late registration takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Guest Services office in La Cumbre Plaza, located in the building behind Starbucks halfway between Macy’s and Sears (closest parking is Lot P4).
There will not only be a 5k but also a children’s one mile fun-run. The first 100 runners to register will receive a free Santa costume for the race. That’s right, runners are expected to run wearing the garb of St. Nick himself. And, all runners will receive a medal.
Santa runs are not new. Boston and Chicago both have popular Santa Runs, and Gonzalez hopes that this will be a new tradition in Santa Barbara outnumbering the East Coast’s Santa numbers.
“I couldn’t believe it when Jose told us that he wanted to organize a Santa Run,” said 13-year old Lewandowski, who will be starting the race, “but when he said he wanted the proceeds to help Kidz for a Cure, I was stunned.”
The eighth-grade La Colina Junior High student started her charity when she was 8 years old. She had an idea that if she sold some of her toys at a yard sale, she could offer that money to pediatric cancer research. When her 4-year old sister, Maya, followed suit, she realized if she could inspire her sister, maybe she could inspire a city of children to give up their gently used toys to help children with cancer.
The annual event is five years strong and has raised more than $18,000 for The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. It includes a kid-run rummage sale, music, entertainment, jumpers, a raffle, silent auction, vendors, activities, arts and crafts, contests and more. Supporters of Kidz for a Cure have included Mayors Marty Blum and Helene Schneider, story-teller Michael Katz, Rep. Lois Capps, Larry Crandell and the late Dom DeLuise.
“I cant wait to see a sea of red suits and Santa beards running through Santa Barbara,” said Lewandowski. “What a great way to ring in the holiday season ... by helping kids who need our help.”
— Leon Scott Baxter represents Kidz for a Cure.