Ugly Sweater Run is a friend-raiser
Last updated 12/8/2021 at Noon
The finest collection of ugly Christmas sweaters in the history of Sisters Country assembled Saturday, December 4, for the first annual Ugly Sweater Run and Walk, sponsored by RunSistersRun as a promotion for Circle of Friends.
More than 200 participants donned sweaters adorned with Grinches, reindeer, Santas, and even flamingos, and traversed the 5k course on the north side of Sisters, finishing at The Barn for post-exercise refreshments.
By all measures, the noncompetitive event was a grand success in its inaugural year. In what was billed as a family-friendly activity, runners and walkers of all ages took part, including plenty of babies in strollers.
Enthusiasm for the event was evident throughout the crowd. Julie Ortman and seven of her friends from Portland wove the run into an annual birthday weekend trip they make to Black Butte Ranch.
“These are really good friends to agree to come and run with me,” she said as the group relaxed following the run. “The weather was great and the event was so much fun, we will come back and do it in the future for sure.”
Kate Kuitert, sporting a holiday sweater replete with a pug dog, took part with her daughter. “I loved it. It was such a fun event — so family friendly and my daughter was really invested in the sweater part of the race,” she said.
Nicole Woodson, executive director of Circle of Friends, addressed the crowd.
“We are a nonprofit organization that has been in existence for 10 years in Sisters that supports youth in the community who are underserved traditionally, and so we provide one-on-one mentors along with experiences from camps to dance class, music lessons, art lessons...all kinds of things,” she said.
Kellie Scholl, the youth program coordinator for Circle of Friends, said that the Ugly Sweater Run
and Walk was the brainchild of Circle of Friends
mentor Kelly Bither as a
way to draw attention to the program, provide a fun activity for the community, and as a way to raise some funds.
“It turned out fantastic,” she said. “It was not only a great way for people to just enjoy being out in Sisters, but a great opportunity for people to learn more about what Circle of Friends does for this community.
According to Scholl, Circle of Friends, which serves ages kindergarten through high school has approximately 27 mentors and could use 10 to 12 more.
“We always have at least seven kids who are on the waiting list for mentors,” she said.
Kids without mentors still take part in after-school programs and other activities, but ideally Scholl would like for everyone in need of a mentor to have one.
Scholl said that anyone interested in being a mentor should contact Circle of Friends and that they might be surprised how easy it is to get involved in the program.
“The biggest requirement is time and the desire to help,” she said. “We can be pretty flexible with people’s schedules. It means the world to the kids to have one on one time with a caring adult.”
Most of the students involved in Circle of Friends are referred from the schools in Sisters, but parents are welcome to contact the organization if they believe they have a child who would benefit.
Twelve-week-old Brooks St. Clair was chosen by a panel of children as the
winner of the ugly sweater, kids’ category and Dan Kuettle took home the top prize in the adult division with an absolutely gaudy silver-sleeved sweater with Santa-capped flamingo design.
Nathan and Amy Bennette and their four children all took part in the race.
“We loved the community piece — these are our neighbors — the fact that it was not so commercial and the entry fee based on donation made it super family friendly. We love these community events.”
Board member Carolyn Gabrielson summed up the day: “I think of this event as harvesting the goodwill of this community because we all want the very best future for the young people who live here in Sisters.”
Though fundraising was not the primary purpose of the event, Scholl estimated that over $4,000 was raised through donation-style entry fees. Those funds will help with the cost of programming, tutoring, and classes according to Scholl.
Information can be found at http://www.circleoffriends