High school senior organizes 2021 Jingle Bell Run



For one Tea Area High School senior the end of November marks a special event — the Jingle Bell Run.

Taylor Van Emmerik said, “Although I am not sure how long it’s been happening in Sioux Falls, it has been at least eight years because I attended my first Jingle Bell Run in Sioux Falls back in 2013.”

This year is even more special for Van Emmerik because he is organizing the event for his Senior Experience Project.

“We are raising funds for the Arthritis Foundation which provides resources, research, and a sense of community for the arthritis community. I know that from experience because when I was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in 2013, they were a tremendous help,” said Van Emmerik.

The Arthritis Foundation was important to Van Emmerik after his diagnosis, as they provided resources such as heating and ice packs in the form of a teddy bear, and connection to others suffering from Juvenile Arthritis. The foundation provided camps to learn more about the disease while being around others like himself.

“I am passionate about this cause because I understand the pain and limitations that arthritis can bring on someone, especially kids,” said Van Emmerik. “All kids want to do is be able to run around and enjoy childhood. Arthritis takes that opportunity away from the over 300,000 kids in the United States suffering from it. Additionally, throughout the years I have seen how little people understand about arthritis. Arthritis is not an “old person’s disease”, it affects people of all ages, genders, races, and professions and it can have devastating effects if left uncontrolled.”

The 2021 Jingle Bell Run will take place on Saturday, November 27th at Fawick Park in Sioux Falls. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the race begins at 9:00 a.m.

The fun and festive 5K race is open to anyone who wishes to participate. To donate or register for the walk/run visit www.jbr.org/siouxfalls.

All funds go to support the Arthritis Foundation to continue their life-changing work. If you aren’t able to register online before the event, there will be day-of registration available.

Van Emmerik said, “Ever since my diagnosis in 2013, I have decided that I wanted my Senior Project to be tied to the Arthritis Foundation in some way. However, eight years ago I would have never expected it to be organizing an event of this size. It has truly been challenging to manage/organize an event like this while also dealing with my dual credit and high school classes. It takes a person with great time management and patience. Honestly, I don’t know if those are two qualities that describe me very well!”

Van Emmerik’s commitment to the Arthritis Foundation inspired him though.

“I found a way through it all” he said, “Honestly, I couldn’t be more happy and excited with how everything has turned out. Thanks to some great support by the community, some great sponsors, and my friends and family who have helped me through everything, the 2021 Jingle Bell Run is gonna be the best yet!”