2009-12-24 / Church News

Pa. Brothers Organize Santa Run In The Cold

By Susan Schwartz

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) – A herd of Santa Clauses, dressed only in Speedos or bikinis, is scheduled to run through Berwick the day after Christmas, a fact that has shocked even the event’s organizers.

The Nespoli brothers Josh, Jon and Marc thought their first annual Berwick Holiday Speedo Fun Run for the Cause would consist of only them and a few friends, most of whom now live out of town.

But as news of the run spread, more and more said they would join them.

As of last week, a total of 72 people had clicked on the Facebook page for the event saying they would take part. And that was before the brothers even started distributing flyers.

It’s for a good cause – entry fees and sponsorships will all go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund, which is dedicated to fighting breast cancer, the brothers said.

The run was the brainchild of Josh, who now works for the Cradles to Crayons charity in Boston, finding clothes, school supplies and other essentials for needy Massachusetts children.

Last year, the Boston Santa Speedo Run named Josh’s employer the beneficiary of its run. So Josh found himself clad in a Speedo, a Santa hat and a big red bow jogging through Boston. He won’t say where he wore the bow.

It was 22 degrees. A huge crowd lined the streets to watch, “like Market Street during the Run for the Diamonds,’’ Josh recalled.

And it was a blast, he said.

“It requires overcoming some inhibitions, but that’s pretty easy when 600 other people are donning Speedos,’’ he said.

It also raised $180,000 for his charity.

Ever since then, he and his brothers talked about doing something similar in Berwick.

“We thought if 10 people did it together, maybe someone would notice, and next year, we could plan to do more,’’ Josh said. “I was shocked at the response. Shocked and thrilled.’’

His brothers were already experienced at organizing races. Marc, owner of Fuel Fitness, and Jonathan, owner of Nespoli Jewelers, had teamed up to put on the Run For the Cause, a 4.5-mile walk/run that this year raised money for Eos Therapeutic Riding Center.

This will be a bit different, Jon said. First, it’s not a race. Everyone is supposed to stick together. In Boston, the group leader stopped every 400 yards and did jumping jacks and pushups so everyone could catch up, Josh said. People don’t have to be trained runners to join.

The run is only a mile, Jon said. It’s scheduled to start at Crickets bar, which is the only space downtown with enough space for everyone to meet and store their clothes, he said. It’s a happy coincidence that runners who are 21 can also buy a drink or two to bolster their courage, he said, although no one who gets boisterously drunk will be allowed to run.

Runners will go up the east side of Market, loop back, and end at Nespoli Jewelers, thus tracing the shape of the Susan G. Komen ribbon.

Runners must be at least 18. If they’re under 21, they must have a guardian accompany them into the bar, he said. Everyone has to bring ID as well, although he didn’t say where people would be able to carry it.

Non-runners are welcome to come to Crickets to see the runners off.

The Boston race requires runners to raise at least $250 to join, but Berwick has no such limit.

Still, Jon said the brothers are hoping people will find sponsors. Everyone knows someone who has been hurt by breast cancer, he said. Plus there’s the obvious incentive.

“I mean, who doesn’t want to see their friend running around Berwick in a Speedo after Christmas?’’ Jon asked.

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