Out for a Run: The First Annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K The JCC of Greater Baltimore and Hadassah Greater Baltimore have cooked up a recipe for a truly tasty community outreach event.



The partnering organizations’ 1st Annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K will offer an opportunity to participants interested in helping two important causes as well as getting in some fun exercise … topped with a mug of scrumptious hot chocolate.

The fun run will take place at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 9 a.m., with check-in beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Proceeds from the event will benefit two separate charity organizations, represented by each partner respectively. The run benefits Hadassah’s Check It Out program, which works to educate young students about precautionary measures as regards testicular and breast cancer, as well as the JCC’s scholarships for teens who require financial assistance to attend Maccabi sporting activities.

“Currently, no one is offering anything like it in Baltimore,” Raychel Setless, director of fitness at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC who has been involved in the charity event she helped develop, said via email. “Because of that, we’ve been getting a lot of interest.”

Setless said that the idea for a hot chocolate-inspired charity race revolving around the Chanukah season came in part from a similar event she’d been a part of in Springfield, Mass., where she had been working at that city’s JCC.

“I have a deep connection with both fundraising causes for this event,” said Setless, a triplet who notes her twins and she are all avid runners with one sister heading down from Brooklyn to run in the forthcoming 5K.

“We made a bet when we were 12 years old about who would win the 70-plus category for our hometown 5K,” Setless said. “We talk smack about this every chance we get!”

Jane Goldstein, an Owings Mills resident who is co-chairing the race as the JCC representative, agrees with Setless that the Chanukah theme helps set their event apart from similar races due to the time of year it’s being held.

“Who knows the weather, but in the very likely event it’s cold, we’ll be right by your side at the finish line with a steaming cup of cocoa!” reads the race news release.

The hot chocolate will be provided by the JCC’s on-site kosher kitchen, Me Latte.

When asked why she volunteered to help develop the race, Goldstein replied quickly with a laugh, “Because I forgot to say no!”

In truth, Goldstein has children who have been involved in Macabbi and said she therefore understands the importance of fundraising for those who might need a little help in participating.

The other side of the event’s charitable impetus — Hadassah’s Check It Out program — is also prime reason for Goldstein’s helping out.

“There’s been some breast cancer in the family,” she revealed.

President of the local Hadassah chapter and co-chair of the race Julie Bernstein said the organization’s Check It Out program (which is a localized satellite of the national entity) is “imperative” because of the alarming number of breast and testicular cancer diagnoses being seen in people of younger and younger ages.

Check It Out has volunteers going to high school and educating youths in how they can perform self-checks; a survivor of cancer also comes to speak and answer questions.

Bernstein recounted the story of one student who came home after Check It Out came to her school. The girl ended up discovering she had breast cancer but was able to catch it in time to become another success story.

“This is the first time we’re partnering with the JCC for the race, which is exciting,” said Bernstein.

Though this is the 1st Annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K, the Hadassah has been holding similar races for the past 18 years, previously without a partnering group.

“Every organization in the community has such wonderful causes and beliefs,” said Bernstein. “A lot of these activities and programs are trying to reach out to the same people, so if we can form coalitions together, it’s only win-win for both sides.

“It’s important in the Jewish community to foster relationships and coalitions together instead of pulling people in different directions.”

“I think it’s going to be a very successful race,” Goldstein predicted. “I don’t think we’re going to see huge numbers — it’s a community race — but we’re very pleased with our registration so far.”

The 1st Annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K will take place on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 9 a.m. (check-in at 7:30 a.m.) at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave. Register online at jcc.org/chanukah5k.


Image credit: JCC  Facebook
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