AKRON, Ohio — On a cold, rainy Saturday morning, Pete Fickert stretches in preparation for his run. It's the ninth year he's running in the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank's Selfless Elf 5k.

What You Need To Know

  • The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank hosts a run to raise money for its programs
  • The Selfless Elf 5k is in its 9th year
  • More than 700 runners participated in this year’s race

As a young boy, Fickert was evacuated from Croatia because of the war and remembers times without food in the refugee camp.

"We had to evacuate in 1944 to go to Austria and there was hardly any food there, and we had to wait. Once a week, the Red Cross came and gave us powdered milk and a block of cheese," said Fickert.

Now, at 80 years old, he looks forward to the run each year to support the foodbank's mission. More than 700 people participated in the run this time around after it was canceled last year because of the pandemic. The foodbank's President and CEO Dan Flowers said the pandemic is also contributing to the high need for food they are noticing in the community. 

"We will raise enough money to provide around 100,000 meals today. So it's no small amount of money and of course every dollar means so much to us here at the Foodbank," said Flowers.

While the goal of the race is to raise money for the organization, it's also a time to get in the holiday spirit. Many runners dressed up as characters from their favorite holiday movie. For Wesley and Kerri Weir, that means dressing as the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who.

"It started with her and the blonde wig and then it just kind of morphed into doing the whole theme," Wesley.

Another Christmas character favorite also ran the race.

"My favorite one, there's a guy dressed as Elf. He has just the total Will Ferrell look. The perm, the beard — he looks great!" said Flowers.

Soon enough, runners started crossing the finish line and with a time of 29 minutes and 20 seconds. Fickert finished 95th overall in the men's category.

"I feel good!" said Fickert.