Runners, walkers will get up early on Thanksgiving to ‘Run for the Hungry’

Thanksgiving Day event is dedicated in memory of Steve Califf

What: Gateway Church's

Run for the Hungry

When: The run starts at 8:30 a.m., on Thanksgiving Day

Where: Washougal High School, 1201 39th St.

How much: The registration fees, which include T-shirts while supplies last, are $25 for adults and $15 for children younger than 10. Participants can bring a box of canned food as the registration fee, although a T-shirt is not included with this option. Register online at www.gatewayweb.org, or the day of the event from 7:30 to 8 a.m.

What: Gateway Church’s

Run for the Hungry

When: The run starts at 8:30 a.m., on Thanksgiving Day

Where: Washougal High School, 1201 39th St.

How much: The registration fees, which include T-shirts while supplies last, are $25 for adults and $15 for children younger than 10. Participants can bring a box of canned food as the registration fee, although a T-shirt is not included with this option. Register online at www.gatewayweb.org, or the day of the event from 7:30 to 8 a.m.

In 2010, nearly 500 people got up early on Thanksgiving morning — before even a single morsel of turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie crossed their lips — and braved the weather to run 3.1 miles to be part of an event that has become an annual tradition.

That Run for the Hungry tradition, now in its ninth year, will again take place on Thursday. But for the first time, it won’t be held at Gateway Church. Instead, due to steadily increasing participation numbers, it will begin and end at Washougal High School. The 5K course will make its way through the parks and neighborhoods of east Washougal.

The run/walk event is a major fundraiser for Gateway Church’s food pantry, which serves approximately 200 families (600 to 800 individuals) in the local area each year.

Donations also support the church’s Thanksgiving and Christmas food box programs, which give local residents in need ingredients for a holiday meal, as well as a selection of toiletries and household cleaning supplies.

“It’s so that people who can’t afford it can have a meal, plus a few extra things to get by,” said Jennifer Campen, an employee of the church.

Of special note is the fact that the event is held in memory of a much loved member of Gateway. Steve Califf had a special interest in positively impacting others’ lives, and likely spent many cold mornings hitting the pavement for his own early morning jogs.

According to Campen, holding the Run for the Hungry in memory of Steve is a unique way to honor several of his interests.

“They really wanted to dedicate something that would first of all give glory to God, and second help others in a way that honored Steve,” she said.

According to his wife, Gloria Califf, who now lives in Redmond, Wash., running was a big part of Steve’s life. In addition to participating in the Run for the Hungry twice before his death on July 1, 2004, he ran the Portland Marathon several times, with his best time a finish in 3 hours and 12 minutes.

“He loved to run,” Gloria said. “However, people were more of a priority to him than running, and often he would miss a workout to talk to someone or help someone that needed it.”

That kind of compassion was also demonstrated as Steve and Gloria were both very involved in Gateway Church. Steve, chairman of the deacon board for many years, led several small church groups that met in the couple’s home, and they were greeters at Gateway’s Saturday evening service as well. Their son, Mathias Califf, is currently the church’s student ministries pastor.

The couple became members of the church in 1994 when they moved Camas after raising their children in Estacada, Ore. Gloria said Steve died suddenly at the age of 51 as a result of surgery he underwent in his battle against stomach cancer, which the family later discovered had spread throughout his lymphatic system and was untreatable.

Gloria, who has participated in the Run for the Hungry nearly every year since it started, described having the event dedicated her husband as “wonderful.”

“He was a runner, and he was very involved in the lives of the people there at Gateway,” she said. “He was an extraordinary example of loving God and loving people. I think they [honor him as part of the event] because he was an inspiration to everyone at Gateway, and the church really felt the loss.”

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