Panerathon Prepares for Fall Date, New Management

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Runners in the 12th annual Panerathon will likely be able to look forward to cooler weather thanks to the event’s Oct. 3 date this year.

The shift to fall from the event’s traditional August date is just one of the changes in store for the annual fundraiser for the Mercy Health Foundation and the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center. 

Presented by Panera Bread franchisee Covelli Enterprises, the races – a 10-kilometer run and a two-mile walk/run – return to downtown Youngstown after a virtual run in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The community is ready to get back together in a safe way and give, which is what this event is all about,” said Ashlee Mauti, event coordinator for Panerathon. 

“Over the last 12 years, the quality of life for the people in our community has been improved through Panerathon and its mission to support the [Abdu Center],” said Covelli Entreprises owner Sam Covelli in a statement announcing this year’s event. “This year will be special as we come back together again to continue what we started 12 years ago.” 

Funds raised by Panerathon go to the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley to help the Abdu Center provide care regardless of patients’ ability to pay.

“We are excited to bring back the event in a safe way this year,” said Paul Homick, president of the foundation, in the announcement.  

One of the major changes this year will be in management of the Panerathon, which is transitioning to JAC Live. The events company is a sister entity to Youngstown-based JAC Management Group, which operates the city-owned Covelli Centre, Wean Park and Community Alley. 

“They’re in the event business and they know how to put on some really great events,” Mauti said. “We’re really excited about bringing them on to help things go smoothly this year.”  

JAC Live will work closely with Covelli Enterprises and Mercy Health as responsibilities for the event are transferred, said Phoebe Breckenridge, director of marketing for JAC Live and JAC Management. JAC will produce the event, as it would with the concerts it puts on, and handle day-to-day management as well as on-site logistics for the event and the week leading up to it. 

“We started planning for our company to have more involvement before COVID hit, but have now been able to make that a reality,” she said. “Our further involvement is a natural progression of the relationship we have built with Covelli Enterprises and Mercy Health over the past 10 years of this event. As the event has gotten bigger it only makes sense for us to lend more of our event expertise to the project.” 

The fundraiser’s Oct. 3 date means it will serve as a kickoff for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, during which Panera Bread conducts its Pink Ribbon Bagel campaign, Mauti said. This year, the campaign will mark its 20th anniversary. 

“We’ll be able to have the bagel at the event and we’re pretty excited about that,” she said. 

In addition, the event organizers will be able to take advantage of greenspace that didn’t exist two years ago, Raymond Wean Foundation Park, which is adjacent to the Covelli Centre. 

“We are excited to have all the additional space in Wean Park and are looking to utilize our lush new park as a potential vendor area or as an area for runners/walkers to gather before and after the race,” Breckenridge said. 

“It’s just so beautiful down there,” Mauti added. We’re really just thrilled that the community will have a chance to come together and support the survivors and those going through their cancer battle.” 

Individuals and groups can register for the event HERE

 Whether Panerathon will remain a fall event is still to be determined, Mauti said. She has already received positive feedback from those in the running community about the new date, when it is likely to be less hot than the normal August date. 

Moving out of summer and away from vacations might increase participation as well, she pointed out. 

“It’s one of those things that we’re going to play by ear,” she said. “If all goes well, it could be a permanent fixture.”

Pictured: Runners at the 2019 Panerathon.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.