Everyone from hula dancers to pixies to Disney's Mr. Incredible ran, walked and skipped around Lodi Lake on Saturday morning in an effort to raise money for high school athletic departments.
More than 300 people, racing numbers pinned to their chests, braved the cool morning air as they made their way through the fifth annual "Pump It Up" run. Participants could choose between a 5K or a 10K race to not only get in a Halloween-themed morning run, but also to help raise funds for the four Lodi Unified School District high schools' athletic departments, which have faced serious budget cuts over the past few years.
"Schools have been hit so hard, and pretty soon kids are probably going to have to start paying to be able to participate in sports," said Lauri Merrill, owner of Lodi Physical Therapy, a major sponsor for the race. "This is money that can go back to each school so that everyone has a shot to play the sport they love."
Last year's event raised roughly $13,000, Merrill said, and this year it is looking like that amount will be easily exceeded.
Going into Saturday morning's race, the event had already raised $10,000 from sponsors. The amount from participants who signed up for Saturday morning's run had yet to be calculated.
According to Merrill, each school gets a portion of the proceeds from the race. Those schools who send out volunteers to help manage the race will get a larger chunk of the money raised from the run.
Students from three of the four district high schools came out to not only volunteer, but to race.
Dressed in anything from their high school team's racing uniforms to Nascar costumes, high school students were not the only ones helping to raise funds for their schools Saturday.
Janine Jacinto, a sixth-grade teacher at Heritage Elementary School dressed as Egypt's famous Cleopatra, crossed the finish line with a group of students from her school's Lodi Youth Running Club.
Fully clad in a gold gown covered in jewels, Jacinto said she kept running in mind when she bought her costume, which had a slit up both her thighs, making it easier for her to keep up with her kids.
"These kids that I run with — they are the future cross country and track stars," she said. "They are the ones who will need these funds the most. If I can come out and support that, then I will."
Though Jacinto had "a blast" Saturday, she said there was only one thing she lamented about the race.
"I had to get rid of my wig at some point," she said. "It was just too hot, and it kept falling off."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.