Saint John’s Sponsors Will Rogers 5/10k Race

One might think that staging a 5/10K run is an inexpensive proposition. Well maybe, if you ran it in your back yard. Realistically, you would need people to register runners; permits and barricades to close off streets; police, parking officials and medical staff at the race; water and toilets; timing equipment; and it might be nice to have T-shirts and medals.

Registration fees cover only a portion of the Will Rogers 5/10K race costs—the rest is made possible by sponsorships, such as the support provided by Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Since the race began in 1977, Saint John’s has been the title sponsor.

Providence Saint John’s has been a race supporter since 1977. Photo courtesy of Saint John’s
Providence Saint John’s has been a race supporter since 1977.
Photo courtesy of Saint John’s

“This is a community hospital,” said longtime Palisadian Bob Klein, president and chief executive of Saint John’s Health Center Foundation in SantaMonica.“Community outreach is part of our mission— and so many Palisadians are involved with the race and with the hospital.”

Klein said the initial push to sponsor the race came from two Palisadians, Jerry Epstein and his late wife Pat. The patriotic couple were a big supporter of this country and its history and Fourth of July celebrations. They had purchased and contributed early American documents to Williamsburg, a town and vision they supported. The Epsteins had also been involved with Saint John’s for 45 years. Jerry has been a member of the Foundation’s board of trustees since 1975 and served as chairman in 2006 and 2007. Pat, who passed away last July, was one of the founding members of the Irene Dunne Guild. The hospital, which was founded in 1942

by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, was transferred to Providence Health & Services in 2014. But the support for the race continued because of the Epsteins.

Additionally, “Part of our mission is to take care of the sick, but wellness and health support is also important,” Klein said, noting that every Fourth of July, Saint John’s employees and their children participate in the Will Rogers 5/10K.

“There are lots of trustees and board members who should also be recognized for their support, including Bill and Cindy Simon [RaceSponsor],”Klein said.“There’s also Rick and Tina Caruso [Kids Fun Run] and Jordan Kaplan [color guard sponsor].”

The medical tent at the race is staffed by Saint John’s doctors and nurses—many of whom are Palisadians.

Klein said he asked his friends, Teddy and John Kindle, if they would be in charge of T-shirt distribution and they willingly agreed to help out.

“The next generation of Palisadians who are running the race are emerging,” Klein said. “Michael Solum, who grew up here, Peter Hogan, who has won the 10K, brothers Jimmy and Patrick Klein, Jeff Lemen, Brian Wood and Andrew Klein—all ran the race when they were younger and now their children are running in the race.”

Klein, who played tight end at USC and then in the NFL with the L.A. Rams (1969 to 1976) and San Diego Chargers until his retirement in 1979, has been a constant at Saint John’s. He has been a Foundation trustee since 1988.

“Providence is the third-largest health institution in the United States and the largest in the Western U.S.,”said Klein,whonoted that it is comparable to Kaiser in facilities and research.

The Saint John’s service area embraces 29 zip codes and includes Venice and West L.A.“We care for the underserved,”Klein noted. “We partner with the Venice Family Clinic and OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center).”

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