Shelter House Luminaria Run to light up Destin in December (PHOTOS)

Special to The Log
More than 400 people participated in last year's Luminaria Run at Sandestin Resort.

After two successful years at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the Luminaria Run to end domestic and sexual violence is moving to Destin.

Shelter House will present the unique twilight run designed to shine the light on abuse in our community at 4:30 p.m., Dec. 7.

"We are excited about the move," said Shelter House Executive Director Michelle Sperzel. "We basically outgrew Sandestin. It got to be kind of too big."

Last year the event fielded about 400 to 500 runners and walkers.

This year runners will start at the Destin City Hall Annex and follow a course lined with more than 2,000 luminarias lighting their path.

The race includes 5K and 9K courses winding throughout the Indian Bayou neighborhood.

“We chose the 9K distance to represent that a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S.,” Sperzel said. “The luminarias symbolize how Shelter House and our community partners light the way to a safer place for victims of abuse.”

One local runner and social worker, Sherry Blauner, who has taken part in every Luminaria Run, plans on making the move with the event.

"I'm a big supporter of Shelter House," said Blauner, who runs about three races a year. She explained that Shelter House provides a service for some of the people she works with. "They help to bridge the gap."

As for the race, Blauner says, "It's a great way to support Shelter House, bring awareness to a good cause and get some exercise."

Children are encouraged to participate in the run, and walkers are welcome. This family-friendly event will have a “sweet finish” featuring s’mores, hot cocoa, cupcakes and more. The after-party will take place at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

This is a twilight race starting at 4:30 p.m. Runners are encouraged to wear reflective gear, and a prize will be awarded for the best lit runner. Bring your own lights or purchase a glow pack at the race.

Registration for adults is $30 for the 5K and $45 for the 9K and includes a long sleeve T-shirt. Children ages 3 through 12 are $10 for the 5K and $15 for the 9K.

Also new this year, Shelter House is adding a run expo the evening before the race. Runners, friends and family are invited to come to the expo at The Palms of Destin from 4-8 p.m., Dec. 6. Packet pick-up and vendor booths will be open along with a silent auction and raffles.

Luminary bags will be labeled and placed along the course in honor or in memory of loved ones. Bags are available through a $5 donation to Shelter House and can be purchased at the Shelter House office in Fort Walton Beach, at the race expo or on site the day of the race.

Shelter House would like to thank this year’s Luminaria Run sponsors: 30A, BE Events, Blueprint Health Studio, Destin Shines, Dixielectricar, Emerald Grande, ERA American Realty Rental Service, Furry Fanatics, Kind Bar, Nike Factory Store, Palms, Proffitt PR, Run With It, Silver Sands Premium Outlets, SoWal, Think It Wear It Express and Wagley Creative.

To register, go to or For more information on the race, sponsorships, expo vendor booths or luminary bags, call Shelter House at 850-243-1201.

Last year’s Luminaria Run drew more than 400 runners and raised more than $13,000 to help keep abused women and children in the local community safe.

Log reporter Tina Harbuck contributed to this article.