Some walked with canes, others lumbered in costumes, a few ran fleet-of-foot through puddled streets, but all did it to assist the 46,000,000 Americans who are currently afflicted by arthritis. This Sunday, not even the torrential rain of a Pineapple Express weather system could stop the thousands who descended on Westlake Center from showing their support in the 2010 Jingle Bell Run and Walk.
Costumed fundraisers, like the pod of Orca whales we met swimming in PEMCO's Rudolph Runners wave, have so far raised over $500,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. The pod's leader, Laurie, noted that the inspiration for their fundraising effort was a former employee with debilitating arthritis. "When we first met her she walked with a cane. We would find her lying down in the office on breaks." Lighting up, she added, "Then last year she stood up and was dancing at our holiday party. That's how far advancements in medicine have come."
The gains are a credit to the people we met who sheltered with us under WALLY's awning, and to all those who turned out, undeterred by the rain. They exemplify what Dave, a program coordinator for Jingle Bell Run, means when he says, unlike the winter weather in the Northwest, "This disease is not something you just have to accept."
Laurie and her pod haven't missed a Jingle Bell Run in 10 years.
Steven and I polled those who stopped by the PEMCO booth, and the general agreement seemed to be that the rain added an element of adventure.
Washington state: known for large trees and larger puddles.