Jingle Bell 5k Returns in 2021

East Lyme community participates in annual 5k to support the Brian Dagle Foundation

ALEX BROWN

On your mark, get set, go! On Saturday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m., runners and walkers of all ages lined up at the starting line to participate in the Jingle Bell 5k to support the Brian Dagle Foundation.

Brian Dagle, an EL alumni who went to college for lacrosse, stunned everyone when he tragically took his own life after struggling with mental health. While the nature of this event is extremely heartbreaking, Brian’s parents decided to help prevent incidents like this from happening to others by forming the Brian Dagle Foundation. Through this organization, the Dagle family holds focus groups and raises money for the cause of mental health, like with the Jingle Bell 5k.

The 5k is an annual race, but because of the pandemic, however, the race was canceled last year. As a result, EL citizens were eager to participate in this year’s race. With just over 900 registrants, this was the most successful.

“The Jingle Bell 5k far exceeded our expectations,” mother of Brian and head of the Brian Dagle Foundation, Ann Dagle said. “This was the best to date.”

First, everyone gathered in the parking lot of Cini Beach before the race. There were pavilions set up with waters and snacks for racers, and there was even an appearance from Walsh’s Waffle Wagon (a local family food truck that sells waffles). Holiday music played from speakers, and most participating dressed in festive holiday clothing to show enthusiasm. There was even a costume contest to see who had the best festive gear. And although there was a little rain and a lot of fog, a great time was had by all.

“It’s a great experience to be a part of, and I think it’s a really good cause,” EL sophomore and participant Beck Schultz said.

Luckily, the fog cleared, it stopped raining, and even warmed up before runners took their mark behind the start line. At 10 a.m., the air horn sounded and the runners/walkers took off. Several crowds of supporters cheered as the racers began their 5k. It wasn’t very long after this that EL junior Brendan Fant crossed the finish line, taking the first place position for the entire race. He finished with a time of 17:08.

“I think it’s a great cause. It’s very meaningful,” Fant said. “I came out to see the community, and engage in a good run.”

The race was also heavily supported by the sophomore class of EL. They decided that they wanted to do more charity work as a class, and picked the Brian Dagle Foundation as one they were passionate about. They developed a team to run with, which had eight people, and encouraged many more to participate via social media.

“The turnout this year was awesome,” ELHS PE teacher and participant in the 5k Jennifer Brush said. “People dress in holiday costumes and just go out and have fun while supporting a great cause.”

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