On Saturday 22ndof December, the city center of Leeuwarden will be colored even more in red than it usually would during Christmas time. A legion of hundreds of Santa Clauses will make their way through the small streets for the annual Santa Run of 2½ kilometers. The proceeds of the run and the accompanying afterparty, will go to TOF Vakanties this year, a charity that organizes holidays for people with a mental disability.
By: Else Rietveld – Photo: Simone Postma – Translation: Nathalie van den Berg
,,It’s going to be one big party”, is the answer of Rob Lijzenga on the question why people should participate with the Santa Run. Rob is one of the organizers from the Rotary Leeuwarden. ,,When you sign up for the run, you will get a Santa costume. We will start on Saturday with a warming up on the Wilhelmina Square, after which the mayor and the children’s-mayor will give the starting signal at 13.30. It doesn’t matter if you run, jog, or just walk, the goal is to have fun with each other and to raise money for TOF. In the Harmonie there will be an afterparty with live music, a lottery, snacks and drinks, and most importantly a fun atmosphere.”
Guests and volunteers
At TOF Vakanties they are extremely excited to receive the proceeds of the Santa Run. Jan Meindert Bron, coordinator at TOF, is happy to share their plans for the money that will be raised. ,,We organize holidays for people with mental disabilities, we call them our ‘guests’. Last year 650 of our guests joined a TOF holiday. The guidance during the week of vacation is provided by volunteers.”
Money for extras
,,Our guests usually have to finance their holidays from their social welfare or their personal budget (PGB). We think it is normal to just go on a holiday and sit on a terrace, go to an amusement park, stuff like that. However, if you have a limited budget, this is not possible. The mission of the board of TOF is to keep holidays affordable for the guests. The proceeds of the run will be used to finance certain extras, and to pay the fees of renting customized vans for the guests who need special care during transport.”
Simple is so special
That these simple things are so special for the people with disabilities, can be seen by the volunteers of TOF every single time. Diana has been guiding these holidays for several years as a volunteer. ,,You have to consider that a lot of them are living in special living spaces and are in need for professional care. At home everything needs to happen quickly. During a holiday they get attention from the volunteers, there is time to drink a cup of coffee together, and to have chats. You can really see them enjoy being together.”
A group of volunteers of TOF is also participating in the Santa Run, even with some of their guests. That’s how important it is to them to raise money in order to provide these special people with an unforgettable experience.
More information about participating in the Santa Run and where to collect the Santa Claus suits, can be found on: www.santarunleeuwarden.nl.