ST. ALBANS – This Sunday will be the 20th anniversary of the Run for Jim and the charity run’s organizers are ready to make it a big one.

They have a record number of preregistrations. The weather looks like it’s on their side.

They have a silent and live charity auction planned for Thursday at 14th Star Brewing Company, with everything from a yard trimmer and golf passes to a five-hour brewery tour courtesy of the Abbey Group slated for the auctioneer’s table.

There’s even a Sweat & Sip organized by the brewery for the Saturday morning beforehand, with those proceeds also set for the Jim Bashaw Fund.

“It’s a big anniversary and it’s a big weekend for this,” said Shari Bashaw, one of the organizers. “I think we’re going to have a record turnout for this race – we already have a record turnout for preregistration.”

The Run for Jim is held annually to support the Jim Bashaw Fund, a charity fund administered by Northwestern Medical Center that donates to families struggling with the medical costs associated with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses.

The fund is named after Shari Bashaw’s late husband, Jim, a teacher, coach and guidance counselor from Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans whose battle with brain cancer inspired the initial Run for Jim – a running of the Maple Festival Sap Run held in Jim’s honor.

“It was all my running partners, who were close to Jim and me,” Shari Bashaw said of that initial run in 2000. Records show almost 700 people would run in that inaugural Run for Jim.

While Jim eventually succumbed to his cancer, Shari Bashaw and the organizers of the Jim Bashaw Fund decided they would formally establish an annual Run for Jim in his memory, providing the same support for families that the Bashaws needed while Jim sought treatment.

“After living it first hand, we realized just having good insurance doesn’t cover a lot of expenses people don’t think about,” Shari Bashaw said. “We went down to one income. We had to handicap the house. The daily trips for radiation and different states for surgery – it all just adds up.

“I know people who are in worse off circumstances, who live week-to-week, and something like this would just be catastrophic.”

Runners participate in the 2018 Run for Jim. (Josh Kaufmann, ST. ALBANS MESSENGER)

The Jim Bashaw Fund fills in the financial gaps for those seeking treatment for a catastrophic illness.

Since the 2000 Sap Run that eventually led to the Run for Jim’s founding, the Jim Bashaw Fund has donated $598,000 to over 1,100 individuals struggling with cancer and catastrophic illnesses.

In 2018 alone, 155 grants totaling $71,785 were awarded.

Save for some overhead costs, 100 percent of the funds raised by the Run for Jim are distributed through the Jim Bashaw Fund.

The event’s become a community institution, often drawing hundreds to the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center to run the five kilometer stretch wrapping around the fitness center and the southern bounds of St. Albans.

Last year, even with light rain, the run brought in a record 300 runners, and this year Shari Bashaw said she’s expecting that number to break 400.

“It’s been really, really rewarding,” Shari Bashaw said. “To keep Jimmy’s memory alive and help all these people.”

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