Press Releases

Seventh annual Selfless Elf 5k helps provide thousands of meals this holiday season

Dec 21, 2019

Early Saturday morning, Dec. 21, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank welcomed more than 1,100 race participants to its seventh annual Selfless Elf 5k. Some were dressed as Santa’s helpers, others as beloved holiday characters; everyone celebrating the spirit of the holiday season.

Because of the community’s support, the race will help the Foodbank distribute the equivalent of more than 265,000 meals to its network of nearly 500 pantries, hot meal sites, shelters, backpack programs and other hunger-relief programs within its eight-county service area.

New to this year’s race was Darlene Wredberg from Medina. She and her grown children from Cincinnati and Columbus all dressed as The Grinch. Rather than having a grumpy demeanor however, they delivered food donations to the Foodbank to spread holiday cheer.

“We try to do something together as a family every year to give back to our community – to pay it forward,” said Wredberg. Working at Summa Health, she says she sees the effects of hunger in patients every day.

Race participants wore the iconic striped elf socks proudly atop their costumes and running gear. Some have all seven variations from the previous races and are curious as to what next year’s socks will look like.

The cold weather didn’t deter the dedicated elves dashing through downtown Akron on the 3.1-mile course beginning and ending at the Foodbank’s warehouse. Runners and walkers of all ages enjoyed carolers along the race route and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“We’re so grateful for the many families and friends with us here today, despite the chilly temperature and growing holiday to-do lists,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Foodbank. “Your support of our hunger-relief efforts and participation in today’s race, helps families in our community facing hunger this holiday season. Thank you for being there for them, and for continuing to be here for us. We appreciate your partnership.”

Overall top female runner was Macy McAdams, 20, of Medina. Overall top male runner was Kenny Wallace, 20, of Vienna, Ohio. The VIP Elf raising nearly $2,000, helping provide the equivalent of more than 7,300 meals, was Mark Mitchell of Akron, a Foodbank employee. Winning the Most Dashing award for her reindeer costume was Carmella Ritchey, 9, of Sharon Township. She also placed first in her age category.

For more information on runner and walker winners in each age category, visit 

A special thank you to title sponsor Shearer’s Snacks for their support of the event.