Santas Run to Help Fight Pediatric Cancer

When Madison Lewandowski started Kidz for a Cure in 2008, she never thought she’d see the day when hundreds of local Santas would be running five kilometers to help with her fight against pediatric cancer. The event was the brainchild of Jose Gonzalez, the head of, a marathon runner, triathlete and coach.

“I have been wanting to put something together like this in our community for awhile and I think that Kidz for a Cure is the perfect organization to benefit from it,” says Gonzalez. “It’s all about helping kids and who helps kids more than Santa?”

The race starts and finishes at La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara at 8am on December 2nd (rain or shine). Runners can register here. Late registration takes palce on December 1st, 1pm-4pm at Guest Services office in La Cumbre Plaza Mall, located in the building behind Starbucks halfway between Macy’s and Sears (closest parking is Lot P4).

There will not only be a 5k but also a children’s one mile fun-run. The first 100 runners to register will receive a free Santa costume for the race. That’s right, runners are expected to run wearing the garb of St. Nick himself. And, all runners will receive a medal.

Santa runs are not new. Boston and Chicago both have popular Santa Runs, and Gonzalez hopes that this will be a new tradition in Santa Barbara outnumbering the East Coast’s Santa numbers.

“I couldn’t believe it when Jose told us that he wanted to organize a Santa Run,” says 13-year old Madison, who will be starting the race, “but when he said he wanted the proceeds to help Kidz for a Cure, I was stunned.”

The eighth grade La Colina student started her charity when she was eight years old. She had an idea that if she sold some of her toys at a yard sale, she could offer that money to pediatric cancer research. When her four-year old sister, Maya, followed suit, she realized if she could inspire her sister, maybe she could inspire a city of children to give up their gently-used toys to help children with cancer.

The annual event is five years strong and has raised over $18,000 for The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. It includes a kid-run rummage sale, music, entertainment, jumpers, a raffle, silent auction, vendors, activities, arts and crafts, contests and more. Supporters of Kidz for a Cure have included Mayors Blum and Schneider, story-teller Michael Katz, Congresswoman Lois Capps, Larry Crandell and the late Dom DeLuise.

Learn more about Kidz for a Cure here. learn more about The First Annual Santa Barbara Santa Run here and sign up or get your questions answered here. You can also email Jose Gonzalez directly at

“I cant wait to see a sea of red suits and Santa beards running through Santa Barbara,” says Lewandowski. “What a great way to ring in the holiday season…by helping kids who need our help.”

Jose Gonzalez is a marathon runner, triathlete, and coach. Starting in 1989 his organization, Santa Barbara Action Pro (SBAP), organized and produced the Santa Barbara Duathlon, Carpinteria Trialthon, Roses to La Playa, La Cumbre to La Playa, Santa Barbara Chardonnay 10 Miler and Santa Barbara Action Pro Kids’ Triathlon, and now the Santa Claus.

Gonzalez hopes to create an institution of athletics and entertainment that will benefit different local causes. Santa Barbara Action Pro is an organization that promotes health and a new active life style in our community.

If you would like to contact Jose Gonzalez at or call 805-845-0119.

Kidz for a Cure was the brainchild of eight year-old Madison Lewandowski in 2008. Madison had a history of raising money for causes including the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the non-profit, Girl’s Inc.

The third-grader wanted to raise money to help cure pediatric cancer. She thought maybe by selling some of her outgrown toys, she could raise some funds. But, when she saw that her four-year old sister soon followed suit, she realized that her idea could be far bigger than just her.

Madison contacted the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara local schools and media as well as businesses to support her vision. The event was an incredible success, especially since it was created by a grade-schooler.

Madison has been a model as well as an entrepreneur. She’s run her own business, Maddie’s Monkey Business which she started with a loan from her parents at age seven. She’s now in the black and creates handmade Wish Bracelets. Since starting Kidz for a Cure, Madison donates 10% of all sales from Maddie’s Monkey Business to the charity.


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