Runners outdoors at the 2023 Reindeer Run. Paved roads, orange cones and pine trees in the background

MASH participants, families and runners at the 2022 Reindeer Run.

Throughout the holiday season, there are numerous ways to give back and get involved – there are gifts to donate, soup kitchens to volunteer at and charities to support.  

Amongst all the holiday chaos and seasonal giving, our John Geigle YMCA hosted its annual Reindeer Run 5K on December 3rd, 2022. Funds from the Reindeer Run help support John Geigle Y's Mainstream Adults Sharing Hope program, also known as MASH. The MASH program serves special needs adults and their families.  

This year’s Reindeer Run raised more than $20,000 with roughly 100 participants. 100 participants, families, dogs, Santa and the MASH members attended the annua event.  

Sandy Reierson, MASH Coordinator shares, "The Reindeer Run is not only instrumental in providing the MASH group with the necessary funding it so desperately needs, it also gives back to the members in ways that are absolutely priceless!"

Little Events Big Impact

Sandy and her team of volunteers plan themed events, fun outings and special projects for the MASH participants to complete each month.  

"We work very hard at creating a fun, safe experience for all of the MASHers every time they come to the YMCA. We also try to have outings each month,” Sandy shares.

The MASHers love bowling together! Maple Lanes is a generous partner and gives the group a Special Olympics rate, yet there is still a cost.

“Ideally, we would love for the participants [to continue experiencing] events like this, and not miss out due to a lack of funds. That would truly be heartbreaking because it brings them so much happiness," shares Sandy.

In addition to the fun outings, the MASH participants enjoy crafting as an outlet to express themselves. Sandy and her team strongly encourage self-expression as it is therapeutic for the MASH participants.

Another big part of the program is providing the MASH group with a t-shirt. The participants love to have a sense of belonging. Who doesn't, right? The wearing of a simple t-shirt provides them with a sense of camaraderie, inclusion and togetherness.

Sandy shares, "We would truly love to be able to provide [the MASHers] with field trips to all of the fantastic experiences that living in Florida has to offer, Sea World, Busch Gardens, a day at the Aquarium perhaps.”

No matter what impactful item or experience the MASH participants receive, it all costs money!

You can provide a memorable item, craft or experience for the MASH group with a gift to the program – contact Sandy:

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022