To the Editor:

I'd like to take a moment to thank all of the people who supported the second annual "Run Santa Run" Nov. 24 in New Milford.

Thank you to the almost 500 runners in the primary race and about 100 kids who participated in the "kids fun run" and helped make this year even more special and heartwarming on a cold and blustery day.

Let me thank the sponsors:

Aurora Photography, 98Q, Label Interactive, Lukens Consulting, Kathy Henkel Fitness, Northeast Communications, Slippin Pools, Arthur Howland & Associates, People's Power and Gas, Madstar Mobile, United Alarm and Ring's End.

Also, the Law Offices of Cecilia Buck-Taylor, New Milford Spirit Shoppe in both locations, D.J. Rachel, Fast Track Timing, Phys-Ed, Fat City, Lewis Photography, Innovative Dispute Resolutions and our friends at Jo-Jo's Deli.

These sponsors give to the cause. I hope everyone takes this into consideration when spending your dollars. Please support these businesses first.

It is important we support those who give to our community first.

Thank you to the Cub Scouts of Pack 467 for handing out water to our runners at the turn, and cleaning up the cups ... truly excellent young citizens in the donation of their time and we thank them.

Thank you to the families who came down for the kids' fun run and donated a new and unused toy to "Toys For Tots," which will be donated through People's Power and Gas on Bank Street, a dropoff for collection this holiday season.

Not only helping the American Diabetes Association, but supporting Toys For Tots, really made this event special to Santa.

Finally, I need to thank the elves ... the volunteers, without whom this race could not happen. Some volunteer because they are connected with the cause, some because they like to give to the community -- all because they believe.

They believe in the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving back, the spirit of caring for their own community. There were some 50 volunteers on race day.

The brothers of St. Peter's Lodge No. 21 of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and their families support and plan this event and we give 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Diabetes Association and the dollars collected on behalf of Toys for Tots.

Free masonry is the oldest fraternal organization in the world and is dedicated to promoting improvement in character of its members. A Mason is taught to care for those less fortunate and to give back to his community.

The Masonic Fraternity contributes more than $1 billion annually to philanthropic pursuits and we are quite proud to be even a small percentage of that right here in New Milford.

This race began with my own personal health battle as I was diagnosed as diabetic last year. This race was the culmination of my beating diabetes into a controlled submission.

Many who suffer from diabetes cannot do so and its not because they are "bad eaters" or "won't exercise."

It can be beaten by some and needs to be understood by more. I was lucky to beat it through diet and exercise but, in February of this year, I suffered a severe break and was on crutches for the better part of five months.

Now, with a slow and steady recovery, I expect to be running again soon and return next year for "Run Santa Run 3 ... Return of the Claus."

I hope you can join me when we again collectively celebrate the spirit of giving, of triumph and the power of this community.

I am truly blessed and wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.

Bill "Santa" Buckbee

New Milford