Jingle Bell Run raises funds, awareness for arthritis


The annual Jingle Bell Run is set for Dec. 10 at Conner Prairie. Organizers of the family-friendly, holiday-themed 5K and 10K run encourages participants to dress in festive costumes as they raise awareness and funds to cure arthritis.

CIF COM 1129 Jingle Bell Sandy Messner

The Jingle Bell Run is the original holiday fun run. For 35 years, the Arthritis Foundation has brought people together for a festive good time that is also for a great cause,” said Sandra Messner, executive director of the Arthritis Foundation Indiana. “I think people like knowing that their registration fees and fundraising go to help find treatments and a cure for America’s No. 1  cause of disability.”

This year’s fundraising goal is $79,750.

“We are already halfway there,” Messner said. “Every participant can create their own fundraising page or donate to a team.”

Each year, people who either have arthritis, are medical providers or are community champions who have made significant contributions to help people with arthritis are honored.

“By selecting honorees of all ages, we can highlight and show appreciation for these special people and allow them a platform to tell their stories,” Messner said.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Kate Elizabeth Sureck – Community Champion Honoree
  • Kevin Balog – Adult Honoree 
  • Samantha Lemieux – Youth Honoree 
  • Jonah Meier, Meier Performance – Physical Therapy Honoree 
  • Dr. Erica Garza Fisk, OrthoIndy – Medical Honoree
CIF COM 1129 Jingle Bell Erica Fisk

Being named the medical honoree is a “huge privilege and very special,” Fisk said.

“(Being honored is) a huge privilege and very special,” Fisk said. “I grew up in this community and have participated in various races and volunteer programs as a teenager, but none quite like this. Bringing awareness to how arthritis is affecting our family and friends can be eye opening to those suffering from arthritis pain, showing all of us that we are not alone in this struggle.”

Fisk said arthritis hits close to home.

“My father just recently underwent a knee replacement after enduring arthritis pain for over 10 years. He finally had enough,” she said. “Now, I get to see how advancements in our medical treatments are changing his life. My mother also underwent multiple back surgeries for severe arthritis in her lumbar spine.”

Fisk currently has about 20 people on her team with a goal of having between 40 and 50 as the race gets closer. Her fundraising goal is $3,000.

“But more than that, it is just a fun way to spread awareness and bring people I know out for a good cause and some hot chocolate hopefully, dressed as elves,” Fisk said.

Messner said it’s always fun to see the creative costumes each year.

“Groups often come in the same costume, like reindeers, angels, snowmen and more and use it as a way to show pride in their team,” she said. “Like always, we’ll have a costume contest to award the top team costumes and top individual costume.”

To register for the Jingle Bell Run, visit JBR.org/Indy.