Saturday's Jingle Bell event raising funds to fight Arthritis

More than 1,300 people came out last year to participate in the second annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk in Port Orchard last year — despite rainy and windy conditions.

But this year — depending on the weather — event coordinator Shelia Cline is looking possibly at an even a bigger crowd.

On Saturday, Dec. 7,  the third annual event to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation will begin with festivities at 11 a.m. at the Port Orchard City Hall. The event is being held in conjunction with the Festival of Chimes and Lights.

“Last year it was really rainy and windy,” Cline said. “Hopefully we can get some good weather to have an even bigger turnout.”

Cline said last week that more than 975 people have registered for the event, but she expects more to register the day of the event. Last year, there were more than 1,300 people who participated in the run.

Registration for the 5-kilometer run/walk is $25 per person and $10 for the 1K walk. Deadline to register was Dec. 2, but Cline expects as many as 75 people to sign up the day of the event at the Port Orchard Pavilion.

People can register from 4-8 p.m. on Friday for $25 at the Port Orchard Pavilion and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Port Orchard Marina parking lot for $35. There is no fee for the children’s run (ages 10 and under) with the elves, which is set to begin at 1 p.m.

A holiday costume contest is slated from 12:30-12:45 p.m. Saturday. The 5K chip-timed run at 1:30 p.m., the 5K, which is not timed, at 1:35 p.m. and the 5K joggers and walkers at 1:40 p.m.

The route begins at City Hall and follows Bay Street along the water to the Annapolis dock and back.

This year’s goal is to raise $65,000.

Cline became involved with the Arthritis Foundation and Jingle Bell event after her daughter was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

RA is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. The body’s immune system mistakenly identifies healthy cells as invaders and sends out antibodies to attack them. Then joints that are continually inflamed become stiff and this can cause a loss of strength and mobility.

This year’s honoree: Linda Banks

Serving as this year’s event honoree is Linda Banks of Port Orchard. Banks was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on Feb. 14, 2012, at age 46.

Cline said people sent in nominations of people who they thought would be a good candidate for honoree.

Banks, 48, said she participated in last year’s Jingle Bell run and was shocked to learn that she had been selected as this year’s honoree for the event.

“I’ve only been diagnosed a year and a half and it was quite surprising to me,” said Banks, a triathlete. “I met Heather, the previous year’s honoree, at the gym and she has been an inspiration for me.”

Banks, who has lived in South Kitsap since 1992, spends most of her time training for upcoming triathlons.

She had signed up for an Ironman competition in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in early 2012 and while training during the winter of 2011, Banks began experience a lot of joint pain.

“I was in so much pain with my knees, shoulder, elbows and hands,” Banks said. “I couldn’t hold on to anything in the mornings. I knew something was dreadfully wrong. It got to the point where I couldn’t function in the morning.”

A year before being diagnosed with RA, Banks said she had a tumor that her doctor determined was a rheumatoid arthritis mass.

“It wasn’t a complete shock, but it was shocking,” she said.

In 2008, Banks began training and competing in triathlons — which include swimming, biking and running — after dropping more than 100 pounds.

“I use to weigh 250 pounds,” Banks said. “So I got in shape mostly because my joints hurt. I’m thrilled I lost the weight because it takes a lot of pressure off your joints.”

She said biologic drugs have been developed to help people manage RA, but injectable biologic drugs are expensive.

“My prescription drugs run $2,400 a month,” Banks said. “Because they are non-generic drugs, my insurance only covers 50 percent.”

Banks said she is thrilled to help raise money to fight RA.

“Hopefully more drugs can be developed,” she said. “I am excited to see all the advancements in treatment and I live in hope that they find a cure one day soon.”


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