Las Vegans will suit up Santa style for the Great Santa Run on Dec. 1

By Debbie Hall, Contributing Writer

Las Vegas Informer

This Saturday, thousands of Las Vegans will suit up as Santa Claus and run on the Las Vegas Strip for the Great Santa Run to raise money for Opportunity Village and aspire for global domination in the World Santa Challenge. Behind the cheer and the running is Santa’s greatest gift – how a fun run can have a serious impact on the lives of thousands.

Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization serving people in the Southern Nevada community with intellectual and related disabilities as well as their families. Through vocational training, community employment, day services, advocacy, arts and social recreation, citizens with severe disabilities are able to find new friends, realize career paths, and experience community integration.

In the past during the Thanksgiving holiday, Opportunity Village held the annual Turkey Trot. Eight years ago, it was suggested to Linda Smith, Chief Development Officer and Foundation Associate Executive Director, by her son that Opportunity Village was known for Christmas and should embrace the holiday with a run. Smith liked the idea and contacted Dave Kirvin, partner of Kirvin Doak Communications. Kirvin suggested doing it in conjunction with the newly established Las Vegas Marathon. The hook would be that runners would be dressed as Santa and the first Santa Run was held downtown utilizing the same route as the Marathon with 4,000 runners the first year.

With an expected 10,000 runners this year raising money, the Job Discovery Program has been able to help more people find their niche in the working world like Reggie. From his start at Opportunity Village, he showed a tremendous work ethic. Reggie has been given a public voice as the citizen spokesperson for Opportunity village and he is featured in the marketing campaign.

Reggie was born in Las Vegas in 1988 and has been involved with Opportunity Village since 2005. He has a “twin” brother Victor. His father, retired United States Air Force MSgt, works at the post office and his mother is a local radio announcer.

Reginald, as his mother calls him, is extremely proud of his billboard and other marketing materials. “I am extremely proud that Reggie never fails to acknowledge the other young man (and co-Opportunity village client) featured on the billboard,” his mother said. According to her, it is Reggie’s humility, and politeness, mixed with his natural enthusiasm that endears him to almost everyone who meets him. He is genuinely friendly, always smiling, always willing to help, always willing to dance, and he loves to joke around. Everybody who knows him knows about his signature hand swipe. Being a part of this marketing campaign has been the proudest time of Reginald’s life.

According to staff members and others who know him, Reggie loves his job and loves telling people about his job. He’s memorized the address and absolutely glows when he talks about where he works.

When asked, Reggie said he wants to have a job where he shows people where he works at Opportunity Village or maybe wants to do something on TV to help people. Family members believe that Reginald is happiest when he’s making other people smile. A short term goal is go with the family visit to Disney World again.

The Las Vegas Great Santa Run serves as a fundraising effort to benefit Opportunity Village. Pre-registration is $40, or $25 for 12 and under; day-of registration is $50 and $35 for 12 and under. Registration fee includes a five-piece Santa Suit and great gifts. A special program will warm up the Santa crowd starting at 9 a.m., featuring Jabbawockeez, Lorena Peril and the girls of FANTASY, Chippendales, and George Dare singing the event’s official song, “Run Santa Run!”

Guided by local personalities including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Terry Fator, Robin Leach and Opportunity Village representatives, the pre-event program also will feature Jeff Leibow of JERSEY BOYS singing the national anthem, signifying the kick-off of the 5K run and one-mile Kris Kringle Jingle walk, beginning at 10 a.m.

At the finish line, Santas will enjoy entertainment by Legwarmer’s an 80’s Musical from Planet Hollywood and food from Las Vegas’ favorite food trucks. Popular mobile eateries including Lola D’s, Fat Daddy’s Ice Cream & Treats, and Great BAO will donate 15 percent of the day’s sales to the Las Vegas Great Santa Run and Opportunity Village.

Following the races, an awards ceremony will honor the largest team, the team that’s raised the most funds, winners of the 5K, the best dressed Santa and best dressed dog.

For more information or to register, click here.

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