MARSHALL - Santa Claus isn't the only one who works hard at this time of the year to make the holidays a bit brighter for people. This year, Marshall's own Ed Haag did his part, too.
Haag, a transportation supervisor for Reinhart Foods, recently ran in the Turkey Leg 5K in Willmar, a race sponsored by the city's YMCA. Not only did he finish a race he purposely started in last place, he raised more than $2,500 for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign.
On Wednesday, Haag presented Lyon County Red Kettle Campaign volunteer coordinator JoAnn Dorman a well-earned sum of $2,556.
Photo by Per Peterson
Ed Haag, right, speaks with Lyon County Red Kettle Campaign volunteer coordinator JoAnn Dorman on Wednesday before handing over the $2,500-plus he raised by running in a recent 5K.
"It's very exciting to have somebody just do something and do it outside the box, think bigger than just running a race for themselves," Dorman said. "It's such a great way to give back to our local charities. I love it!"
Haag's fundraising blueprint is a simple one. He goes out and collects pledges, ranging from $.10 to $1 per runner he passes; some gave a set amount. This year, the Turkey Leg 5K saw a record number of participants - 522 - and Haag passed 425 of them.
"They had more than 200 people more this year than they had last year," he said. "I was just amazed at the number of people there. The weather determines so much how many will be there, and the weather was excellent that morning. In the back of my mind I wanted to raise as much as the previous year - that was about $2,000."
Haag isn't a newcomer to competitive running. He's been at it for more than 20 years. To figure out how many runners he passes in a race, he simply looks at the final results and adds up those who finished behind him.
"A lot of them are just casual runners, some may just be walking," he said. "After the first three-quarters of a mile, it started to be more work and I wouldn't be able to count."
This is the second time Haag has raised money by running the popular Willmar race. Last year's recipient was an orphanage in Mexico. This year, it was the Salvation Army.
"My pastor asked me if I would be willing to do something for a local charity this year, and I just happened to read in the paper that they were looking for bell-ringers," Haag said. "I've been a bell-ringer before and thought this would be a good way to raise some money. I know a little bit of their history, not only with helping with disaster relief, but they really dig in with working against human trafficking."
Dorman said the Kettle Campaign has raised a little more than $19,000 as of last week, off the pace set in 2011 when $28,000 was brought in. But she said she's looking forward to a strong final push as Christmas draws closer.
"I think at this time of the year it's in the forefront of people's minds and they think, 'Oh, this is the time to give back,'" she said. "Hopefully everyone is thinking that as they're rushing around trying to get ready for Christmas."
The Kettle Campaign continues through Dec. 24.
Haag said he's going to try to get more people involved next year, perhaps "find some people who have never run a 5K and train them to get more support."
By the way, Haag, who is 62, finished in first place in his age division.