Tag Archives: Merlin Anderson

ABC#162, The Baby Fold, 4-17-21

So awesome and heartwarming!  An amazing $4,685 was donated to support The Baby Fold this year, a Baby Fold ABC record, and the 2nd highest total among all 162 ABC runs! We had 36 on-site participants, several on-line donations, and several that got their donations to me before or after the run. Thank you all so much for your generosity and enthusiasm!

Aimee Beam, VP of Development and Public Relations, wrote this thank you note:
“Thank you to everyone who supported the ABC Run for The Baby Fold on Saturday. You were able to raise $4,685 for our children’s programs! For those who may be unfamiliar, the Baby Fold provides adoption support, foster care, early childhood education programs, special education and help for children with autism. We support 1200 local kids every year with help from good friends like you. The money buys things like playground equipment, computers for kids, critical play therapy tools, and more. We are very grateful for your support as we work to give our kids the lives they deserve! Thank you!”

Also, thanks to State Farm for their matching program. We do not count State Farm matches in the ABC event total but it likely adds about 25%, considering the number of employees/retirees among the participants. Perhaps the total benefit to The Baby Fold is over $6,000. Please remember to submit your donations.

This is the 17th year of doing an ABC runs for The Baby Fold and the grand total of all contributions is now $30,449. Thanks to everyone for your generosity and enthusiastic support over the years.

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ABC#161, for Scott ELC, 3-13-21

Another record! $1,251 is the highest total of all 13 ABC runs for Scott Early Learning Center. Thanks so much 38 attendees and three other donors for your generous support of the children in our community. Scott ELC will benefit even more when State Farm employees/retirees apply under their matching grant program. If you contributed $25 or more, please be sure to apply.

We met at Rosa Parks Commons in order to follow social distancing protocols. Laura Cordero from Scott ELC did a great job of hosting, allowing me go for a run. Everyone did a fine job of spacing out the times of arrival so we did not have any large group at any one time.

There was a nice assortment of fine snacks at Rosa Parks. Thanks so much to Rebecca Africano for making Meg’s coffee cake. And great thanks to Stacy Sheridan for the brownies, Felicia Harrison for cookies, Kevin Fahling for cookies, and Laura Cordero for the bananas, cuties, and water.

This is the 13th year of ABC runs for Scott Early Learning Center. This year’s $1,251 brings the thirteen-year total to $10,027.  The total for all 161 ABC runs is $170,347. Not bad for a group of friends just out having fun and giving thanks for their ability to do so. Thanks a million to everyone who all who have provided financial support, food, and encouragement.

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ABC#160, for Sugar Grove, 1-9-21

Wow! $2,525 was donated to Sugar Grove Nature Center by the 58 participants, including donations from four that could not attend. That is the highest total of all sixteen ABC events that have been held for Sugar Grove Nature Center. Thanks everyone.

When I arrived at 8:45, Mariah Myers of SGNC was already there and taking care of early attendees. A big thanks to Moriah for being such a gracious host and taking care of things before the 9:00 start time until after the 12:00 ending time.

After posing for photos, participants opted for the trails or for the road course. From what I saw, I think a majority opted for the trails seeing as the conditions were good.

After the run, we were treated to a variety of great eats. Thanks to Rebecca Africano for coffee cake cupcakes, Holly-Rae Van Hoof for Grove Street Bakery cookies, and Mariah Myers for yogurt & granola & chocolate milk & orange juice & more.

Thanks also to Audrey Sparks for supplementing the few photos I took with a variety of great shots of participants and scenery.

Thanks so much to everyone who attended, contributed, brought food, and made it fun!


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ABC#159, for Adopt-A-Family

So heartwarming! On November 14 it was 30 degrees with a 20 mph wind but 47 participants came to Rosa Parks Commons and another 13 people send a donation. A total of $3,120 was contributed to Adopt-A-Family! This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family and at least two additional families. Those that submit their donations to their corporate matching gift program will help even more. Thanks so much to everyone for your support and thanks to Lisa Sparks for doing a great job hosting. The tradition continues…Meg is smiling!

Also smiling will be our assigned family and the other families that your donations will help. Our assigned family includes a mom who is working a full-time job and a part-time job to support herself, her baby and her family. Her father is recovering from cancer and her mom’s work hours have been cut due to COVID. She also has a brother who lives in the home due to a physical and mental disability that does not allow him to live independently. She does an amazing job of balancing her work and her responsibilities as a mother and caregiver. This family and other families will greatly benefit from the Adopt-A-Family program.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions we weren’t able to gather to hear about the Adopt-A-Family program, how much assistance it provides, and how carefully the program is administered. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to: http://www.childrenshomeandaid.org/holidaygiftdrive-central


Although the venue was outside, we still had a great variety of goodies. Lisa Sparks kept the “Meg’s coffee cake” tradition alive by providing coffee cake cupcakes, Rebecca Africano brought blueberry muffins, Kevin Fahling brought chocolate chip cookies, and Laurel Schumacher brought a variety of fruit. Thanks a bunch!


We have completed sixteen years of ABC runs and had a record year. Total contributions for the eight ABC runs in 2020 is $17,777.  The total for all 159 ABC runs is $166,546. Looking forward to another great year starting January 9 at Sugar Grove.


Thanks a gazillion to everyone for your kindness and generosity!


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ABC#158, for Heartland Head Start

Thanks to Heartland Head Start for writing this article. Thanks also to Audrey Sparks and David Weber for photography, and the the 38 participants/contributors.

Sunday, October 4th was a beautiful crisp morning to gather at Rosa Parks Commons to run for Heartland Head Start!  We successfully collected $786 to directly benefit the children and families they serve.  Special thanks go out to everyone who attended and supported the event.  Coffee, juice, doughnuts, yogurt, muffins and much more was provided to keep everyone warm and bellies full!

The Constitution Trail provided different options for our runners and supporters to choose their route for the morning.  Leaves of every color were on the ground as our feet hit the pavement and our lungs were filled with fall air!  It was a memory we will always cherish.

Heartland Head Start enhances the lives of children and families who meet the federal income and eligibility guidelines in McLean and Livingston County. They do this by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for women receiving prenatal care, children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and their families.  Over the years, we have completed multiple runs to benefit HHS.  Money raised has helped the agency pay for playground equipment, classroom supplies and various classroom projects.

HHS staff in attendance for the run included Executive Director Karen Bruning, Child Family Services Director Teri Meismer, Health and Nutrition Manager Autumn Wisz, Public Relations Coordinator Whitney Chesher and Family Resource Advocate Zari Gary.

Karen Bruning, HHS Executive Director, is incredibly thankful and appreciative by the continued support for HHS from the Lake Run Club.  She says, “the ABC run (Adventures Benefitting Children) is one of my favorite events of the year.  We are working hard to get a team to participate as well, as health and wellness is at the forefront of our services.  Meg and Merlin have been supporting our agency over the years with this run and it’s great to see community members giving back.  Our agency counts on non-federal match and community giving.  This is just one example of how great people do great things!”

Again, we appreciate everyone who attended this event and look forward to helping HHS again next year!


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ABC#157, for Seedling Theatre

ABC Run #157 on August 29 was a great success with $1,000 donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to:
(a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being super hosts at Rosa Parks Commons, providing lots of great fruit, and donating a harvest bowl for the prize drawing.
(b) Donna & Rick Anhalt for supplying water & great snacks and for providing a gift basket for the drawing containing tickets to the 2021 Christmas performance plus other cool items.
(c) Sharri Pelarske for donating a harvest basket for the drawing.
(d) Meg Anderson for donating homemade chokecherry jelly for the drawing.
(e) Audrey Sparks for taking all the great photos.
(f) 48 attendees (and two other contributors) that donated a total of $1,000.

Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults and adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. We have completed eleven ABC runs for Seedling Theatre, generating total donations of $12,625. ABC runs have been Seedling’s major source of funding which has helped them to purchase sound equipment, pay copyright fees, give small honorariums to staff, and much more. Thanks a million to everyone for all the support.

Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, is always so deeply touched by the outpouring of support for Seedling. Because we are following social distancing guidelines, we were unable to gather as a group to hear her thoughts about our support for Seedling Theatre.

Due to participants arriving at different times, we prearranged random numbers to pick lucky winners as they checked in. For example, if the first random number was “3”, the 3rd person to be signed in was the lucky winner. To the best of my memory, here are the lucky winners:
1. Paul Haas won the seedling gift basket.

  1. Nick Anderson won a container of powdered Gatorade mix.
    3. Barb Feeney won a jar of chokecherry jelly.
    4. Deanne Husseman won a jar of chokecherry jelly.
    5. Ann Aubry won the harvest bowl.
    6. Erin Furimsky won the harvest basket.

A great time was had by all. Thanks again for such heartwarming support.

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ABC#156, for St. Jude

ABC Run #156 was at Tipton Park on June 20. A record total of $5,110 was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanks to the great generosity of 42 attendees plus 26 others that could not make it but sent us checks or donated online. The donations far exceeded expectations, with the highest total donations among all 156 ABC runs. More importantly, the donations help kids by helping St. Jude provide free lifesaving care and to continue its groundbreaking research. The kids can benefit even more when employees/retirees of companies like State Farm submit their donations for the company match.

Following health guidelines regarding Covid-19, we practiced social distancing and asked participants to show up at different times, thus no group photo. Once again, these simple rules worked perfectly.

If we would have had a group gathering, I would have loved to give special credit to Deb Schumann for attending her 101st ABC run. What an amazing level of support that Deb has shown over the 15+ years of ABC runs. Right behind her are several participants that are past 90 events already.

The food was limited to Meg’s awesome coffee cake cupcakes. Due to Covid-19 concerns we wanted to avoid having participants touch utensils. We look forward to when we can again have the potluck.

We’ve held a total of 18 ABC runs for St. Jude and the total of those runs is $30,671. The total for all 156 ABC runs is $161,615. Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support, and a special thanks to Shady Hollow Trail Runners for giving us a nice boost and a heartfelt note of tribute to Meg!

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ABC#155, The Baby Fold, 4-19-20

A pandemic threatened to end the 15 year streak of annual ABC runs for The Baby Fold. People were being asked to stay home except when necessary, keep at least 6 feet apart, and not have gatherings of more than 10 people. This at a time when the needs of children and families served by The Baby Fold are greater than ever.

We must keep the tradition alive, but how? One solution came when Aimee Beam of The Fold set up a Virtual Run with a link for online donations. Cool, but how about the tradition of meeting somewhere? Can it be done safely? I decided that runners could meet at Tipton Park from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. on April 19 if they would show up at different times and keep at least six feet apart. As an added safety incentive, we had a MUM (Most Unusual Mask) contest in which Bill Hahm won a jar of Meg’s chokecherry jelly for sporting a sneeze-guard-equipped helmet.

The result was fantastic! Donations totaled $3,867, making this the top ABC run for The Baby Fold and the 2nd highest of all 155 ABC runs). $2,770 was donated online. Checks and cash totaled $1,117, including donations for t-shirts. Attendance was 26 and another 26 donated online. The Baby Fold will benefit even more when donations by employees/retirees get submitted to their matching gift program. All this outpouring of generosity and enthusiasm is incredibly heartwarming!

Thanks so much to everyone for making this such a resounding success through your donations, participation, and support. Thanks to Rich Beal and Bill Hahm for helping host. Thanks to Meg Anderson for making coffee cake cupcakes to keep the coffee cake tradition alive safely. Thanks to everyone for magically showing up at different times so that we never had to remind anyone about the rules regarding size of gatherings or about social distancing.

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ABC#154, for MARCFirst Pediatric Therapy

ABC Run #154 was March 1 at Robyn Walter’s home. Fun event with $1,310 donated to MarcFirst Pediatric Therapy by 36 participants plus 15 others that could not attend but got a shirt. The shirt commemorates surpassing the $150,000 mark in total donations for all 153 ABC runs. Thanks much to everyone! If you are a State Farm employee/retiree and you donated $25 or more, please submit your donation to State Farm’s matching program.

Before getting the group photo and heading out for a run, Gregg Chadwick thanked us and told us a little about the exiting new developments at MARCFirst Pediatric Therapy.

It was a great day to run, especially compared to cold weather of the previous few days. Runners/walkers headed west on the constituent trail. There was a refreshment stop near the Japanese Gardens for those choosing to run at least 6 miles. Some went farther, including Mary Pinkham (8 miles) and Denise Jovanovich (10 miles).

Back at the house, Robyn Walter and Gregg Chadwick did a great job of hosting, including organizing the food buffet and mixing mimosas. Another fantastic post-run food fest!

Amazing! A great run and a great brunch with a great bunch of people, for a great cause! Thanks again for the food, donations, and friendship.

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ABC#153, Sugar Grove Nature Center

An amazing total of $1,759 was donated to Sugar Grove Nature Center by the 33 participants, some donations from those that could not attend, and a special donation from Shady Hollow Trail Runners. Thanks so much to all.

At 9:00 we gathered for a group photo and to hear from Jill Wallace, the Environmental Director. Jill thanked us for our efforts and told us that this year’s donations will go toward improvements to Imagination Grove, the children’s play area. Last year’s contributions went toward updating the educational animal displays.

After the group photo, participants opted for the trails or for the road course. I was fortunate to run a bit with my daughter, Tanya Anderson, who is visiting from Wyoming. In spite of living far away, Tanya somehow happened to attend the first three ABC runs that we had done for Sugar Grove. Speaking of firsts, three of the five participants in the first ever ABC run (January 2005) attended (Kevin Fahling, Mike Heffron, myself).

Afterward, we were treated to a great feast! Thanks to Meg Anderson for coffee cake, Stacie Sheridan for breakfast casserole, Jill Wallace for yogurt & granola, Kevin Fahling for chocolate chip cookies, Erin Furimsky for oatmeal cookies, Kathy Alexander for KIND bars, and much more (sorry I didn’t notice who brought the rest).

Thanks so much to everyone who attended, contributed, brought food, and added to the fun!

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