For many runners in the Bay Area, the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K, held on the first Sunday in February, has become an annual tradition. Well-known for its scenic course through Golden Gate Park, the race has several times been selected as Road Race of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America.
But what is not as well-known to the nearly 10,000 participants who walk or run the course, is that proceeds from the event are used to support local charities.
“A big part of our mission is to make a difference in our local communities by volunteering and donating to nonprofit organizations,” said Andy Chan, president of Pamakids, the running club that presents the race. “We often choose ones that match our club’s mission to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Likewise, Kaiser Permanente has a long history of providing financial support to local nonprofit health and human service organizations that serve low-income, under-resourced communities. “We have a mission to improve the health the communities that we serve,” said Randy Wittorp, director, Kaiser Permanente Greater San Francisco Public Affairs. “As part of that work we support organizations that promote healthy eating, active living, and other healthy behaviors.”
Founded in 1983, the race began as a family-friendly half marathon and 5k, and this year for the first time, includes a 10k. Kaiser Permanente has been the event sponsor since 2005 and, along with Pamakids, selects the four organizations who are beneficiaries of the proceeds. In 2018, more than $115,000 was donated to Bay Area charities and this year’s recipients include nonprofits that have taken a leading role in promoting community health and wellness, particularly for families.
Two of the charities utilize running as a tool to develop and support youth. Running for a Better Oakland works with kindergarten – 12th grade students to develop healthy lifestyles, while Girls on the Run empowers girls in grades 3 through 8 with a confidence-building program of health and wellness education.
Support for Families of Children with Disabilities offers information, education, and parent-to-parent support free of charge to family members and others raising or supporting children with a special health care or educational need. The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center provides a range of housing and residential addiction treatment services, including Harbor House, which shelters parents in recovery together with their children.
In addition to the funds raised by the race, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco supports community benefit initiatives such as community gardens, cycling safety, and urban hikes that also promote health and wellness. “In order to be a leader in caring for our members, we have to be involved in caring for our larger community,” said Wittorp.
Kaiser Permanente also provides charity care to the uninsured and has given millions of dollars in grants to community clinics and public hospitals throughout Northern California in order to support the community health safety net.
Pamakids has provided financial and in-kind support to senior fitness and exercise programs, youth sports, outdoor activities, art and college prep programs. “We care deeply about supporting our community and encourage all of our members to get involved with the charity committee,” said Chan.
The Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K is held in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Registration for the event is available through Friday, Feb. 1.