Sacred Heart Parish in Havertown hosted an annual tradition, the Shamrock Shuffle, on Saturday, March 17. It included a 5K run, family fun walk and a kids’ dash. Although originally scheduled for March 3 until severe weather postponed the event, folks made the best of the change and came together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and support Sacred Heart at the same time.

Now it its seventh year, Shamrock Shuffle takes months of planning to make the event a success. A five-person committee promotes the event to the community through local businesses, parish bulletins, lawn signs and social media.

The committee, consisting of co-chairs Joe Rastatter and Kathy Mariotti along with Jessica Reick, Carolyn Jones and LeighAnn McCabe, also orders race day T-shirts and awards for the overall winners as well as age-group winners. This year Bryn Mawr Racing Co. provided race timers with micro-chips for the runners.

“It takes a while,” said Jones. “We’ve been planning since January.”

A family passes by Sacred Heart Church as they participate in the Shamrock Shuffle March 17 in Havertown.

The Shamrock Shuffle becomes more and more popular each year. While approximately 430 people participated in previous years, this time the total was 449 with 396 runners pre-registered.

“It’s great,” said McCabe. “We’d love to keep it going. It turns into more of a community event than just something for the school. It brings the community out.

Proceeds are always used to enhance the infrastructure of the parish school. This year’s race totaled about $11,000 in revenue before expenses. The net amount is expected to help upgrade the parish gymnasium, according to Rastatter.

The event enjoyed vital support from local business sponsors including Stern and Eisenberg (S&E), Pepperoncini, Adam Mechanical, Villanova Business School, Erica Deuschle and Co., Beneficial Bank, the Law Offices of Robert DeLuca and Associates, O’Donnell Roofing Co., Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Dakota Diesel, Brick and Brew Gastro Pub, Brookline Dental Associates, Faust Orthodontics and Musi, Malone and Daubenberger.

“We’ve had a tremendous response from local businesses connecting with people of the parish and local residents,” said Rastatter.

Many people that came out to Shamrock Shuffle and participated are members of Sacred Heart or a neighboring parish, but one runner from out of town was Elizabeth Henderson, 13, of Montgomery Township, New Jersey, who was visiting her grandfather, Bill Henderson, a Sacred Heart parishioner.

“I like the course,” she said.

The day was a family affair for Kristin Kearns of Annunciation Parish who ran the 5K and her son, James, who took part in the kids’ race.

“I wanted to support this parish, too,” she said.

The overall winner of the 5K race was Juan Almonte of Philadelphia who finished in 14:24 in his third year at Sacred Heart. The next two runners-up were Brent Frissora (14:26) from New York City and Josh Fingerhut (18:32) of Havertown.

“The atmosphere is really cool,” said Frissora. “It’s really neat to have people cheering you on.”

Katie Rodden of Ardmore and a parishioner of St. Denis, finished first among female runners in 19:31. This marked her third year of participating.

“It’s nice,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite runs.”

Rodden is a former runner at Penn State University. She usually comes out with her dad and brother but they were unable to attend this year.

Chad Brooks of Havertown, also a member of St. Denis, led the way for the 60-and-over age group.

“I like to support the local community,” he said. “I like running throughout the town.”

After the Shamrock Shuffle, participants relax, get refreshments and talk about the day with others in the community in the school hall.