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Annual ‘Johnny’s Jog for Charity’ Retuning to West Hartford’s Blue Back Square

Johnny's Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

The St. Patrick’s Day-themed ‘Johnny’s Jog for Charity’ 5K will be held on Sunday, March 26, 2023, in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

By Ronni Newton

Johnny’s Jog for Charity will return to West Hartford’s Blue Back Square on March 26, with a St. Patrick’s Day-themed event that’s not only fun for participants but also benefits several local nonprofits that support children.

The annual Johnny’s Jog for Charity 5K raised $95,000 in 2022, when it returned as an in-person event after several years of COVID disruption. The event set records for participation and fundraising in 2019, but what would have been the 10th annual Johnny’s Jog for Charity in March 2020 was canceled amid the shutdown of activity in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Johnny’s Jog was reimagined as an “It’s Your Place. Your Pace” virtual event.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

On March 26, beginning at 10:30 a.m., participants are invited to lace up their sneakers and prepare to run, walk, jog, or dance along the 3.1-mile course, accompanied by bagpipers as well as the local bands “Acoustic Marshpit” and “MARMO,” and will also be able to gather together for other activities in Blue Back Square. Festivities begin onsite at 9 a.m.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

“This event is more than just your average 5K. Make sure you come early to watch Irish Step Dancers from Mulcahy Academy, play a game of Gaga in an inflatable pit donated by the Farmington Valley YMCA, take a mini music lesson from ‘School of Rock,’ sip on some hot chocolate or coffee donated by the Dunkin Donuts GAD Franchisee, and take a couple pictures in the photo booth donated by Friends of Feeney,” organizers said in an announcement.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

Participants are encouraged to come dressed in their “Irish Garb” for a chance to win a prize.

Following the 5K, an auction and after party will be held at Rockledge Grille.

As an option, the race can be run virtually again this year, and the auction is also available online.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

Laura Moran and her husband, Dan Moran, and their friends and fellow West Hartford residents Dan and Kelly Clark, started the 5K fundraising event in 2011. Since then, more than $700,000 has been raised for local charitable organizations that benefit children.

Johnny’s Jog for Charity in 2022. Courtesy of Sona Photography

“It felt truly special to be able to gather back in person last year,” said founder Kelly Clark. “We continue to have immense gratitude for the outpouring of support from our sponsors, participants, volunteers and the community. Together, we have helped countless children and families. We could never achieve this, year after year, without all of you.!”

Johnny’s Jog for Charity is much more than a road race. It was inspired by the incredible, brave, but sadly brief life of Laura and Dan Moran’s son, Johnny, who was born in 2007 with Wieacker Wolff Syndrome, a rare and debilitating condition. Johnny passed away in April 2016, but the organization and race founded in his honor continue to celebrate his resilience, strength, and positive attitude, and bring the community together.

Johnny’s Jog organizers (from left): Kelly Clark, Dan Clark, Dan Moran, and Laura Moran. Courtesy photo (we-ha.com file photo) 

The beneficiaries of the race are all children’s-related nonprofits, and include Covenant Preparatory School of Hartford, which provides tuition-free middle school to boys in underserved families in the City of Hartford in order to help them graduate academically prepared for further education (www.covenantprep.org); the Miracle League of Connecticut, which fosters a community and sports facilities that remove all barriers so young athletes with unique needs are able to join their friends and experience the joy and triumph of team sports in their purest form (www.miracleleaguect.org); and the Molly Ann Tango Memorial Foundation which helps finance the purchase of much-needed medical supplies or services when insurance is exhausted and other social programs are unavailable (www.mollytango.org). These organizations benefit the lives of countless children annually and depend on communal donations to do so.

In 2020, to spread the love even further in the community, Johnny’s Jog added a fourth, rotating charity, termed a “Clover Club Charity.” This year’s chosen Clover Club beneficiary is West Hartford-based Friends of Feeney, which assists children and families in the community who need assistance after trauma or tragedy (www.friendsoffeeney.com).

Johnny’s Jog is thankful to NBT Bank for showing impressive community support by becoming the event’s first exclusive Grand St. Patrick’s Club sponsor. NBT Bank has been a sponsor for the past several years.

Registration is available online through 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2023, and registrants have the option of being timed. Online registration is encouraged to reduce wait times on the day of the event. In-person advance registration as well as early packet pickup will also be available on Friday, March 24, from 3-6 p.m. at West Hartford Town Hall.

Registration is $40 both in advance and on the day of event, but t-shirts will only be guaranteed to those who register in advance. Those registering on the day of the the event will still need to use a QR code at a kiosk or through their mobile phone in advance of check-in.

 To register for the 5K, make a donation, or learn more about sponsorships, visit: www.johnnysjog.com. For Johnny’s Jog gear is also available online.

For event updates, follow Johnny’s Jog for Charity on Facebook or Instagram (@johnnysjog). Johnny’s Jog gear can also be found online here.

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