Spirit Run will raise money for area schools

Students, teachers and families from Newport Beach and Costa Mesa will lace up their running shoes and race around Fashion Island on Sunday morning to support local schools and encourage youth fitness.

The 31st annual Newport-Mesa Spirit Run, which hosts children's contests and adult 5K, 10K and 15K races, has raised $150,000 for Newport-Mesa Unified schools in the past three years, according to its website.

What started as a small fundraiser for five Newport Beach elementary schools expanded to include nearly the entire district in 2011, said Diane Daruty, Spirit Run president and race coordinator.

Twenty of the district's schools are signed up to participate this year.

"You can just tell its getting bigger, and the level of participation and excitement are growing every year," she said.

Spirit Run is paying for the entry fees and bus transportation of underprivileged students who otherwise couldn't afford to attend. It also provides trainers to help get kids ready for the event.

"Even if we don't make any money at all, just having the event is an awesome community thing," Daruty said. "But the more money we make helps the schools, especially those that don't have as much of an ability to fund-raise."

The cost to run ranges from $20 to $55, depending on the event.

Local businesses and organizations like Plums, Balboa Bay Resort, Canaletto and the Newport Beach Rotary Club also sponsor and donate products for the race.

On Thursday the Whole Foods at Fashion Island will donate 5% of its net profits for the day to the Spirit Run.

Spirit Run will kick off at the Regal Cinemas, 300 Newport Center Drive, at 6 a.m. Sunday. Registration and the full schedule of events is available at nmspirtrun.org

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