OC United held its annual Pumpkin Run on Saturday, Oct. 30 and garnered a record turnout of registered runners. The charity event was arranged to fund programs that benefit social-emotional, trauma-informed programs for kids and teens in the community. The 5K run lasted for more than an hour as participants walked through the Fullerton trails at OC United’s fourth Pumpkin Run.
The costumed event crushed its initial goal of $5,000 with over $7,200 in donations. Though the Pumpkin Run usually has an attendance of approximately 400 in past years, OC United saw its expectations blown away with more than 900 participants this year.
“We have a neighborhood initiative,” said Stacie MacDonald, a Family Support Advocate for Foster and Adoptive Families at OC United. “We are fundraising for our United Kids and Teens program… tickets and donations will go towards those schools and communities.”
OC United is a local non-profit organization in Fullerton that thrives on empowering individuals, families, and communities through restorative relationships and whole-person care. The organization covers a wide range of issues like domestic abuse, trauma, foster care, and homelessness.
State Senator Josh Newman was in attendance as a runner and gave away free ice cream sandwiches to participants.
“This is my fourth year at this event, I’m a huge supporter and admirer of OC United… I think the work they are doing is just phenomenal. I’m actually very proud that some small amount of money I’ve secured from state funds is supporting some of their programs,” said Newman. “And this year they had more signups than they had anticipated, and that’s a sign we’re doing something right here.”
The run started on the Juanita Cooke Greenbelt Trail, then swooped around down the Hiltscher Park Trail. Afterward, they were led back around to the finish line.
Participants met at the parking lot behind the North Justice Center, where they were greeted with complimentary snacks and beverages before the run. The runners took pictures as they wore unique costumes, socialized with people in their community and had an overall lively experience.
“This is my first 5K, we usually do the Love Fullerton events,” said Josh Pantino, local Fullerton resident and regular OC United attendee. “I’m just really impressed at how many lives they are able to touch with their service and ministry.”
“It’s for a good cause that goes towards families and kids in the community. I know they usually have a pretty good turnout, which is a testament to their work,” said Susan Pantino, a Fullerton resident.
The Fullerton District School Board signed up schools for the event and even supplied them with school buses. Schools such as Pacific Drive, Nicolas, Raymond, Richman, Orangethorpe, Woodcrest, Common Wealth and Valencia Park helped make this Pumpkin Run the highest in attendance yet.
The event was well organized, with volunteers to guide runners down the trail’s pathway and a registration booth for runners to receive their shirts and number tags beforehand. In addition, each school had its own canopy to set up and take in attendance of students. Online registered runners went first, then each school followed after every three minutes to avoid crowdedness.
To volunteer or attend future events, visit OC United’s website.