One of the recipients of the proceeds from a month of Delphos Running Club runs was the Allen County Abilities Baseball League. (Submitted photo)
One of the recipients of the proceeds from a month of Delphos Running Club runs was the Allen County Abilities Baseball League. (Submitted photo)
DELPHOS — The Delphos Running Club will start its sixth year on Thursday with just under $45,000 donated to local and area non-profits in the past five years.

The club was started by Mandy Weimerskirch as way to meet up with friends, get some exercise and socialize afterward.

“I never imagined how big this was going to be,” Weimerskirch said. “I started this with 19 friends on a cold day in May 2014. Now we have around 75 people each Thursday evening and we’ve had up to 110-115 people.”

The avid runner got the idea when she and her husband visited friends in Florida.

“When we visited a friend in Florida, they were in a running club so I thought, why not,” she said. “The Delphos Running Club fulfills three needs — exercise, social activity and charity.”

Membership in the club is easy — just show up and someone will win the $25 gift card given each week. After a participant finishes their fifth event, they receive a free T-shirt. The club meets for registration at 7:15 p.m. at The Rustic Cafe on Thursdays and the 5K run starts at 7:30 p.m. Walkers, joggers and runners are welcome.

“People are hesitant to come out by themselves, especially if they are walkers. I want to stress that there are days we have just as many walkers as runners, so if you don’t want to run, we have plenty of people to walk with and no one has to feel like they are left behind or holding anyone up,” Weimerskirch added. “We always do a 5K but people can do as little or as much as they want. Participants can walk, jog or run to State Street and back if that’s all they can. It’s still better than sitting on the couch.”

The event is not timed but through generous donations of local businesses, lucky participants can win door prizes like gas cards. Whatever runners decide to give at registration benefits a local organization.

April's supported organization is Night to Shine; May — Little League Association; June — Equestrian Therapy; July — Meals 'til Monday; August, P.A.S.S." and September — Delphos Senior Citizens.

Last year’s non-profits were Rock for the Heart, SHYAA, the Matt Ulrich Foundation, Make It Enough, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Allen County Abilities Baseball League, the Give Back Program and Meals ‘Til Monday.

“I’m really excited about who we are giving money to this year,” Weimerskirch said. “The committee researched 20 groups that were suggested for this year’s list. We are careful who we give the money to.”

Weimerskirch and the committee have also added some new incentives. Those who complete their 1o run/walk will receive a stainless steel, screw top water bottle with the club logo engraved on it; the 15th time some participates this year they will receive a quarter-zip club jacket; and the top 10 participants will go into a drawing for an Apple watch.

“We’ve added some step awards to keep it fresh,” she said. “It’s like anything else, you have to keep setting goals. So it’s possible for someone to earn all three of the new awards.”

The new awards were make possible by money from the Rustic Cafe from the Brown’s Backers Golf Outing, the Berelsman family and Vancrest of Delphos.

Weimerskirch hopes to see some new faces along with the regulars.

“We’re very informal. We don’t push. Everyone knows what we’re doing,” Weimerskirch said. “We get new members each week.”

Participants come from all over the area, including Lima, Spencerville, Van Wert, Ottoville and Fort Jennings.

Weather is a factor for the runs. Weimerskirch said as long as there is no lightning and the temperature is in high 30s to the low 40s, the race is on.