The origin of the Samaritans 5K


In celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the Samaritans Annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention, former Director of Development, Jessie Jakobs, shares the origin of the 5K!

When I started working at Samaritans in 1997, Executive Director Melisa Poulos had me meet with our tireless Board members — all of whom were very involved with the organization, especially supporting our fundraising efforts. One of the first Board members I met, Sandy Shapiro, said we needed a sustainable fundraiser that would gain more visibility for the organization; one that would really drive people’s attendance.

I was a runner and had just completed my first 5K for Main Streets Roslindale, so I suggested a 5K. We heard that the Boys and Girls Club of South Boston organized a very good 5K fundraiser. Sandy and I, along with a few others, went and participated in the Boys and Girls Club’s 5K, just so we could introduce ourselves to organizer Ed Hoell. Ed agreed to join our new Samaritans 5K Committee.

Mike Kaneb, then chairing the Samaritans 5K, threw out a fundraising goal of $30,000 and we all said, “Sure, why not?” Somehow we got Bill Rogers and Jimmy Tingle involved, and an incredible committee focused on the race, corporate sponsorships, and media coverage. Gee, maybe next year we can think about pledges? The first year we started at the Hatch Shell and it was a blast, but we realized DCR Artesani Park would provide more space for people and parking. We netted that $30,000! We thought that was big time. Little did we know what would be accomplished in future years.

This year, Samaritans’ current Executive Director Steve Mongeau got in touch with many of us “founders” and invited us to a dinner in May. It was so fun to see everyone that we decided to try and make a team. I was inspired to hear Steve’s story, and meet new volunteers that do so much for Samaritans.

Having lost my dad to suicide when I was a child, and seeing what this 5K has become, I decided to make the commitment this year. I’ll feel proud to see what the race has become, and to be joined by my daughter who is now 14, so she can learn something about how a community can make a difference in the lives of those that feel hopeless and lonely. Community is so important. Being able to talk about suicide and suicide prevention is so important.

Learn more about the 5K Founders team or find information about tomorrow’s 20th Annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention!