Food bank’s 9th annual 5k draws close to 750 runners

Food bank’s 9th annual 5k draws close to 750 runners

Image Credit: Submitted

Early in the morning on Dec. 18, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank welcomed nearly 750 race participants to its ninth annual Selfless Elf 5k. Some participants were dressed as Santa’s helpers and others as holiday characters — everyone celebrating the spirit of the holiday season.

Because of the community’s support, the race will help the food bank distribute the equivalent of thousands of meals to its network of 580 pantries, hot-meal sites, shelters, and children and senior programs within its eight-county service area. These programs will then distribute the food directly to people in need.

Pete Fickert, 80, of Akron has participated in the race all nine years. “I started running the race because I enjoy running and like the competition,” he said.

But this race has a more personal meaning for Fickert. As a child he was evacuated from Croatia because of war, he remembers waiting for the Red Cross to bring powdered milk and cheese to the refugee camp where his family was located. “I know what it means to be hungry; that’s why I support the food bank,” he said.

Race participants wore the iconic striped elf socks atop their costumes and running gear. Some have all nine variations from the previous races and are curious as to what next year’s socks will look like to celebrate the 10th anniversary.

The rainy weather didn’t deter the elves dashing through downtown Akron on the 3.1-mile course beginning and ending at the food bank’s main campus. Runners and walkers of all ages heard carolers along the race route and took photos with friends and family at the decorated photo booth area.

“We’re so grateful for the many families and friends with us here today. Last year, though, we had faithful food-bank supporters run the race virtually. The spirit of the event and of this special time of year couldn’t be felt through social media,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the food bank. “It feels great to gather with friends dedicated to the mission of the food bank once again. It’s because of their support of our hunger-relief efforts that we can help families find joy over a special meal this holiday season.”

Overall top female runner was Macy McAdams, 22, of Medina. Overall top male runner was Aaron Dutt, 18, of Cuyahoga Falls. The VIP Elf raising $1,125, helping provide the equivalent of 4,500 meals, was Robert Mcintyre of Akron.

For more information on runner and walker winners in each age category, visit

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank was formed in 1982 by a group of community leaders who made a commitment to provide emergency food to neighbors in need. Today, the food bank provides food and other essential items to member hunger-relief programs in eight Northeast Ohio counties: Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne. These member programs operate 500 food pantries, hot-meal sites, shelters and other hunger-relief programs in the neighborhoods and communities where people need food.