On Saturday, December 7, a 17-year-old Las Vegas-area student with cerebral palsy, Philomena “Mena” Hawkins, will achieve her goal of completing the 1-mile race at Opportunity Village's 15th Annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run.
For Mena’s training footage and photos, click HERE.
To visit Mena's blog, click HERE.
Las Vegas – On Saturday, December 7, a 17-year-old Las Vegas-area student with cerebral palsy, Philomena “Mena” Hawkins, will achieve her goal of completing the 1-mile race at the 15th Annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run while also finishing as the event’s top individual fundraiser.
As one of Las Vegas’ biggest fundraisers, the Las Vegas Great Santa Run benefits Opportunity Village and helps nearly 2,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mena has been training for the run since March and hopes to finish the 1-mile at around 45 minutes, with her walker and family by her side.
Mena completed the race six years ago in 90 minutes, but unfortunately, the achievement went largely unnoticed as the race officially ended and roads had been opened back up by the time she crossed the finish line. This year, Opportunity Village is hoping guests will join them at the finish line as Mena completes the fun walk.
Mena, who was born nine weeks premature in Northamptonshire, England and moved to Las Vegas in 2007, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 16 months, affecting her motor skills in both her arms and legs. She is currently unable to walk unaided by her reverse walker. This year, she decided that would not stop her dreams of participating in the Las Vegas Great Santa Run and raising money for Opportunity Village, an organization in Las Vegas that she loves and has gotten to know closely the past year.
In July, Mena and her family toured Opportunity Village’s Ralph & Betty Engelstad Campus.
“The work that the Opportunity Village staff does within our local community is amazing and often goes unnoticed by many people who work and live in the area,” said Mena Hawkins, who attends Liberty High School. “I was inspired to help this great cause in any way I can.”
Mena has raised over $4,500 for her current Great Santa Run fundraising campaign – the most from any individual fundraiser – and is expected to reach her goal of $5,000 by Dec. 7. Her training routine includes walking to her local Starbucks, which is 1.1 miles away from the park she starts at, using free weights at the gym with her father, Roger, and constantly moving around in her manual wheelchair.
For 15 dedicated years, the Las Vegas Great Santa Run has grown to host thousands of participants from all over the world. The run will take place in Downtown Las Vegas, kicking off on Fremont Street Experience. Registration includes a five-piece Santa suit, swag bag and medal. Pets are also welcome to join.
For 2019, Opportunity Village announced it would award the top three individual fundraisers of the Las Vegas Great Santa Run with tickets to see Christina Aguilera during the five-time GRAMMY Award-winning singer’s New Year’s Weekend celebration at the Zappos Theater inside Planet Hollywood. You do not need to be taking part in the Las Vegas Great Santa Run to compete, just head over to LVSantaRun.com and click on the “Fundraise” tab.
The 1-mile race begins at 10:30 a.m. on race day, while the 5K is at 10:00 a.m. Pre-Race Entertainment starts at 8:00 a.m. and the After Party goes until 1:30 p.m. Learn more at LVSantaRun.com.
About Opportunity Village
Mission: Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization that serves people within our community with significant intellectual disabilities, to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Seven families who were determined to give their children with disabilities the best lives possible founded Opportunity Village in 1954. Now, more than six decades later, Opportunity Village is one of the most recognized and respected organizations of its type in the United States.
Nevada’s largest employer of people with disabilities, Opportunity Village serves nearly 2,000 individuals annually, providing vocational training, employment, habilitation and social recreation programs and services that make their lives more purposeful and interesting.
Opportunity Village clients – individuals who were previously considered unemployable – work at Opportunity Village’s Employment Resource Centers and in jobs throughout the community, collectively earning wages amounting to more than $3.6 million in 2018. They are hardworking and diligent, proudly paying taxes and happily leading more fulfilling lives.
Alaina Curry, Kirvin Doak Communications
Marty Wood, Opportunity Village
702.880.4041 / 702.234.5322