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Hundreds run in Arthritis Foundation's 3rd Jingle Bell 5k

After asking if they were naughty or nice,

After asking if they were naughty or nice, Santa Claus points to runners Lisa Wasser, of Dix Hills and Brian Dougherty, of Bellmore, at the Arthritis Foundation's 2012 Jingle Bell Run/Walk at Hofstra University. (Dec. 8, 2012) (Credit: Ursula Moore)

The McHughs tied up their shoelaces Saturday morning for arthritis awareness.

Since they know firsthand the effects of the disease, they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else other than the Arthritis Foundation’s third Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk at Hofstra University.

At age 19, Margaret McHugh, now 31, of Manhattan, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It caused her joints to swell making walking incredibly difficult.

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Her mother-in-law Jackie McHugh, 66, of Williston Park, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 54. At one point, she was unable to stand on her own.

They decided to walk together along with Jackie’s husband Frank McHugh, 73, of Williston Park, and their granddaughter Hannah McHugh, 10, of Babylon.

“We want to raise money for research and show that you can get up and do something with your life living with arthritis,” said Jackie McHugh.

Despite being 5-months pregnant, Margaret McHugh felt confident about walking. “I have a productive and happy life, and I am able to walk today because of the research,” she said.

About 300 runners and walkers participated in the event which was created to raise money for arthritis research. Arthritis foundation executive director Jennifer Regan Haight said while the statistics can be alarming, she remains optimistic.

“Arthritis is the number one cause of disability and one quarter of a million people have arthritis and raising money for research is very important,” she said.

She was thankful to see so many smiles at the annual event.

“This run/walk is a fun and neat thing to do. People of all ages come wearing all types of holiday costumes,” said Regan Haight.

Newlyweds Carson and Jamie Shedd, of Forest Hills, won first place in the men's and women's divisions. Carson Shedd, 31, won first place with a time of 19:03, and Jamie Shedd, 29, won with a time of 21:58. Each received a $50 gift certificate for Runners’ Edge in Farmingdale.

“Keeping up the fast pace was hard but I wanted to win," Jamie Shedd said. "We are going to celebrate with a few cocktails later.”

Matthew Gervasio, 6, of Huntington, completed the quarter mile reindeer dash in first place, receiving a medal and a goody bag. “The race was good,” he said.

Bridgett Licata and her daughter, Gabrielle Licata, 13, of Floral Park, were thrilled to wear  bells on their sneakers.

“This is our first time doing this,” said Bridgett Licata. “It sounded like fun and it’s for the Arthritis Foundation which is a great cause.”

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