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Woodbury family organizes 5K to benefit homeless shelter

Torun Lindstrom, shown here with her mother, Tiffany McGillis, launched an idea for a fun run to benefit the Hope for the Journey Home homeless shelter.

Torun Lindstrom loves to explain the etymology behind her name.

If you put a space between the second and third letters in her first name, it spells out "to run." And if you drop the "G" in her middle name - Grace - you get "race."

To run. Race.

It's little surprise, then, that when her mother was considering ways to raise money for a new homeless shelter in the area, that Lindstrom hatched an idea of her own.

"I said, 'Let's do a race,'" the Middleton Elementary first-grader exclaimed as she recalled the moment.

It didn't take long for Lindstrom's idea to become reality.

Her mother, Tiffany McGillis, organized the To Run for Hope 5K race coming up in April. Proceeds from the race will go toward the Hope for the Journey Home shelter located at Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale.

The shelter opened last summer and provides nighttime shelter arrangements for up to six families at its former rectory building. Volunteers have been sustaining the shelter program, while organizers remain in search of ongoing funds.

Denny Farrell, parish administrator at Guardian Angels, said while the shelter has been receiving grants and miscellaneous donations, efforts like McGillis' are just what it will take to keep it running.

"This is one that has taken it a little further," he said of the 5K event, "which, I think, is just phenomenal."

McGillis said it had never occurred to her that places like Woodbury could experience homelessness, but she said the Guardian Angels program opened her eyes to the problem.

The problem was crystallized for her at the start of the school year when she saw a boy going to school with holes in his pants, a Kwik Trip bag for a backpack and one pencil.

"It kind of hit home" after that, McGillis said.

A marathon enthusiast who volunteers with the Twin Cities Marathon organizing efforts, McGillis knew just what to do after Lindstrom put in the suggestion.

She enlisted the help of about 20 friends to help organize the run. They've helped reach out to other organizations for support and helped establish a website for the race.

"It's been amazing to see all these friends come together for such an awesome cause," McGillis said, adding that the Woodbury Rotary Club recently partnered with the race.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens has committed to participating as the race's marshal. McGillis also hopes to bring the mayors of Oakdale and Stillwater aboard, as well.

McGillis said there is no specific fundraising goal for the race - only "to raise as much as we possibly can."

She's aiming for the event not just to raise funds, but awareness as well - teaching participants the importance of helping others and remembering "how good they've got it."

Raising awareness to the local homeless problem, Farrell added, is a key component.

"Woodbury and Washington County is not immune to this homeless issue," he said.

The race is open to people of all ages and will be family friendly, McGillis said. Entrants an run, walk, push strollers or go on a family stroll.

The To Run for Hope 5K will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 27 at Colby Lake Park. A $25 donation is requested for adults and $15 for children. Runners will receive a T-shirt, a race bag and refreshments. For more information on the race, visit

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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