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National exposure for local event, organizer
Sheila Cline has gone to great lengths to organize and promote the first Jingle Bell Run in Port Orchard.
This week, that meant going clear across the country.
The Arthritis Foundation brought Cline and her daughter, Kinsey, whose juvenile arthritis diagnosis a couple years ago motivated her mom’s involvement in the the foundation’s signature fundraising event, to Atlanta to take part in a satellite media tour.
The Jingle gals from Port Orchard spent Wednesday morning in a studio with Dr. John Klippel, CEO of the Arthritis Foundation, doing more than two dozen interviews with media outlets across the U.S.
“Without question the most passionate people about the Arthritis Foundation are the mothers and fathers” of youngsters afflicted with the condition, Klippel said. “It’s a reflection of how devastating it is to have a child with a disease … that interferes with their ability to be a child.”
It’s the passion, boundless enthusiasm and creativity Cline has displayed in her volunteer organizing efforts that have set her apart and gotten her noticed.
It was a little over a year ago that she first asked the Arthritis Foundation’s regional office in Seattle to sanction a Jingle Bell Run across the water in South Kitsap. And she had to be persistent to persuade the folks there that she had what it takes to stage a successful event.
“It took 3 or 4 times … of saying I really want to do this,” Cline said. “I explained that I’d been really involved in Relay for Life, and I know what takes to put on an event.
“It took some convincing, it really did.”
That’s true, acknowledged Kelsey Birnbaum, director of special events in the Seattle regional office.
“She just kept calling,” Birnbaum said. “The first few times I would end up saying you know, Sheila, your enthusiasm is great, and I totally understand you’re excited about this, but it’s a really a big job.”
But she realized it was a job Cline was determined to take on.
“She hit the ground running, and it probably didn’t take more than a month for me to realize we made the right decision,” Birnbaum said.