Ugly Sweater Run supports Elkhart education

Dec. 4—ELKHART — At just after sunrise Saturday, more than 300 people gathered at NIBCO Water and Ice Park to race in the cold.

The Elkhart Education Foundation's annual Ugly Sweater 5K Run and 1 Mile Sweater Stroll took place earlier in the day than in previous years, due to logistical concerns between it and the rest of Elkhart's Winterfest.

It was EEF's new executive director Charmaine Torma's first time experiencing the event.

"It's amazing," she said. "I thought, 'Who does a run in the middle of winter?' with our weather it's so cold ... what have you, and the amount of people who came out to support it was amazing."

While it's not the largest run the organization has put on, a record was broken in the number of sponsors who helped support it.

Sponsors for the Ugly Sweater Run include NIBCO, U93, Navarre Hospitality Group, Crystal Ballroom at the Lerner, Hair by Alejandro, Hotel Elkhart, D&W Incorporated, Panaderia Hernandez, CTR Cleaning Services, Eby Landscaping, Indiana Michigan Power, Kruggel Lawton CPA, Sanders Pianowski LLP, Boling Vision Center, Goshen Health, Goodwill, and Elkhart County CVB. Partners for the event were 1st Source Foundation, Lippert, NIBCO, and Boling Vision Center.

"In regards to in-kind donors, we had small local businesses donating water, bananas, and cookies that were handmade and packaged," Torma continued.

Over 300 runners and walkers came out to support the foundation.

"I just can't believe that," she said. "I wouldn't be out here, let's be honest."

Awards were given for top three costumes, as well as top racer for age groups.

They were designed and made by Elkhart Community Schools' students at the Engineering, Technology and Innovation building.

"I'm impressed with how the Elkhart community comes together for this," Torma said. "I would not have thought this and it totally warms my heart."

Funds raised at the Ugly Sweater Run will go directly to purchase school supplies to stock the Schoolhouse Supply Store run by the Elkhart Education Foundation.

"This year we had a record number of teachers and staff within Elkhart Community Schools using it," she explained.

This school year, over 200 staff members have expressed a need.

"Our store is pretty bare," Torma continued. "We need to get more composition books, folders, and such."

EEF has an Amazon wishlist with specific items in need. Businesses or groups wishing to donate outside of Amazon can donate wide ruled loose leaf paper, composition notebooks, earbuds, dry-erase markers, pencils, pens, and other commonly needed school supplies directly to the Schoolhouse Supply Store at Pierre Moran School, 200 W. Lusher Ave, Elkhart. EEF also has an Amazon Smile account for those who shop Amazon in order to make The school supply store their charity of choice. Direct monetary donations are also welcome.

For more information on the Schoolhouse Supply Store or ways to donate, visit

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at or at 574-538-2065.