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Running community delivers donated goods to Ronald McDonald House

The fourth annual Tis the Season fundraiser to help the Ronald McDonald House at Valley Children’s Hospital drew more than 80 runners who donated items for the house. Monique Jacques, who started the fundraiser, rides a bicycle to keep track of the runners.
The fourth annual Tis the Season fundraiser to help the Ronald McDonald House at Valley Children’s Hospital drew more than 80 runners who donated items for the house. Monique Jacques, who started the fundraiser, rides a bicycle to keep track of the runners. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

They came by foot, alone, in pairs or in groups.

Some carried their goodies in a Santa Claus sack. Or a backpack. Or in a wagon.

There were boxes of tissue, bath supplies, crackers, toilet paper and everything else that a family settling into one of the 18 family units available at the Ronald McDonald House on the campus of Valley Children’s Hospital.

“This really, really helps us,” said Alene Mestjian, director of development and communication with the charity, as runners dropped off donated goods on Dec. 15.

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A runner carries a Santa Claus-size bag of donated items. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

The Tis the Season to Run and Give fundraiser was started four years ago by ultrarunner Monique Jacques when she ran 135 miles solo from Bakersfield to the hospital in support of the Ronald McDonald House.

“After finishing that run, I felt more needed to be done,” said Jacques, who has seen the number of participants increase from 50 the first year to more than 100.

She decided to put together “a small run” where runners and walkers would journey from Woodward Park to the Ronald McDonald House (about 2 miles each way).

The first year, donations exceeded expectations.

“I am so proud of the running community,” said Jacques, a finisher in the grueling Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley. “They have taken a small idea and turned it into an amazing event that I plan to do every year until I can hopefully pass onto my daughter when she gets older.”

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A participate makes her way up the 2-mile run to the hospital. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

The run has no medals, no timing and no awards.

“Some may underestimate the selfishness of runners because of the amount of training that is put in, but I know how awesome our running community is and they make me so proud to be a runner from the Central Valley,” said Jacques, who is known as Runner Mo in the running community.

Mestjian, who gave a tour of the place to some runners, said the 18 rooms are always full and some families are directed to nearby hotels that offer a discount. The charity is planning an expansion, but that is years away from being realized.

There is a waiting list of 30 families, she said.

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