Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Great Santa Run - Seeing Red in Vegas

Every December thousands of people in Las Vegas, NV put on Santa suits and jog around the Freemont Street Experience in a 5k run/walk to benefit Opportunity Village. They bring their dogs, their kids and their friends to share in the festivities. If you happen to be here having a great Vegas weekend then look out you hotel window on December 1st and you will see a wave of red and white flooding the street below.

Why do they do it? Well, it could be because they like dressing up as Santa or it could be that they like the feeling of helping Nevada's favorite charity. Opportunity Village was founded in 1954 by a group of local families hoping to help their intellectually challenged children. They saw a need and met it.

Now, so many years later Opportunity Village is the largest not-for-profit organization in the valley. They have a myriad of programs designed to inspire, integrate, and empower the mentally challenged. Dottie is an example of the people who use these programs to get their adult lives off to a prosperous start.

Dottie was born with Downs Syndrome. She was educated in the public school system but her family feels that because of her challenges she was isolated socially. She found Opportunity Village shortly after graduating and told them that her goal in life was to work in a kitchen on the Las Vegas Strip.

After intensive training at Opportunity Village Dottie was offered a job at the prestigious Capital Grille on the strip...the job of her dreams. “Her excitement is inspiring,” said Buck Kish, Dottie’s dad. Dottie relishes the fact that she’s working a real, paying job in the community and is eager to finally be doing what she trained so hard for. What she loves most, though, is that she’s now like everyone else.

Siegfried and Roy of the famed white tiger show are the honorary team captains this year and Mayor Oscar Goodman is the honorary head Santa. What makes it even better? After paying the $45 entry fee, which goes to supporting Opportunity Village, participants are given a Santa suit of their very own. They get to keep it and pass on the cheer for the rest of the season. Now they can be Santa anytime they wish.

Best of luck for a successful 2007 Santa Run with a record breaking number of Santas! If you would like to dress up in a red suit and yell HO, HO, HO here is the link to get involved or just to make a donation to the cause - The Great Santa Run.

Merry Christmas Opportunity Village!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful event, and the proceeds are going to a terrific cause.
Roy walked the entire mile with Siegfried last year - I'm sure this year he'll do better yet.
Magician Hans Klok is also an O. Village supporter.
Hooray for all our guys!
MM in LV

Lisa McGlaun said...

MM,

I would love to participate this year but I can't. Maybe next year...I'll get my whole family out in Santa suits..that will be fun. Thanks for commenting from a local prespective.

Lisa

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Excellent post, once again Lisa. It sounds like a great event. I can somewhat relate to this because I was a volunteer security guard for the Special Olympics for years. Too bad this event is so far from home. And yes, it would be fun to have the whole family out in Santa suits. :-)
~JD

Lisa McGlaun said...

JD,

I think other cities do this sort of thing too. I saw several in Europe and some in the US when I did the research yesterday. Check it out, you never know.

Peace,
Lisa