Runners raise money for One Stop Community Christmas


Justin Brown

Runners of all ages participated in Saturday’s fifth annual Holiday Hustle which began and ended at the gates outside of Old Main.

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

Gallery: Holiday Hustle


About 60 people came out on a chilly Saturday morning to raise $1,590 for One Stop Community Christmas in Mattoon at their annual Holiday Hustle.

The total before Saturday was $1,490, but someone donated an extra $100 the day of the race.

Sophomore organizers Samantha Boomgarden, Audrey Rex, Brianne Ed and Katie Ervin took over the planning of the race for the first time after its original organizers graduated last year.

The sophomores met in a Presidential Scholars class, which included a community service project. Though their time in the class ended, their service did not, as they still give the money to One Stop Community Christmas, an organization that helps families in need from seven counties during the holiday season.

Ed said she was a bit nervous during the week coming up, as there were many planning elements that could only be done this week.

However, she said seeing the people who turned out for this made her happy.

“I’m really glad seeing everyone dressed up,” Ed said. “Everything’s very festive.”

Boomgarden said she was also happy with the turnout.

“I’d definitely say I was nervous, but I knew it would happen one way or another,” she said. “I had an awesome team to work with.”

Ed said the fact that it was cold outside and people still came showed how many people care about the cause.

“The holidays should be a time of giving,” Ed said.

The cool weather was not a problem for Champaign resident Shane Brownfield, who came to the race with his wife, an Eastern alumna.

“It’s great,” he said. “If it’s cool enough, you don’t overheat during the race and can go a lot further.”

To train for the 5K, Brownfield ran three days a week, but he hopes to get more into running on the weekends.

As his wife crossed the finish line, he greeted her with a high-five, proudly taking her picture on his phone.

Tom Spencer, director of Student Affairs for the Honors College, said he ran home from work when preparing for the race.

“This is a fun event. I always like it,” he said. “This is probably the coldest it’s been — a couple of times it’s been about fifty (degrees).”

Though he is used to six- to ten-mile runs, he still enjoys the 5K.

“I just kind of hammer it,” he said.

Spencer said the students had done a good job organizing the race, as they had to go through a transition period where they learned how to plan everything.

Kelli-Jo Kesler and Brandi Provaznik have been self-described “running buddies” for the last year and half.

Kesler was already familiar with One Stop Community Christmas, as her law firm, Tapella & Eberspacher in Charleston, helps the organization as well.

Though they were both running with what Provaznik called “nagging injuries” (Kesler had a sore knee, while Provaznik had a sore leg), they each motivated each other to cross the finish line.

“We take a little break, ask each other if we want to run again, move each other along,” she said. “We’re taking it slow, don’t try to push too hard, rest, stretch.”


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].