Competitors burst from a densely packed starting line during a Jet to Jetty race Photo courtesy of Jet to Jetty

Competitors burst from a densely packed starting line during a Jet to Jetty race
Photo courtesy of Jet to Jetty

Charity run for Airport Marina Counseling Center aims to draw some 1,500 runners on Saturday

By Gary Walker

Westchester’s biggest annual charity event is turning 30 this weekend, and it’s only beginning to hit its stride.

Jet to Jetty 5k – 10k run/walk and kid’s fun run participants take their mark at 8 a.m. Saturday at Dockweiler State Beach, following a familiar course along Vista del Mar between Playa del Rey and El Segundo.

The event, sponsored by the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, is expected to raise between $50,000 and $80,000 for the nonprofit Marina Airport Counseling Service mental health clinic in Westchester, said Executive Director Eden García-Balis.

“We really want to reach over 1,500 runners if possible,” she said.

The first Jet to Jetty took place on Nov. 23, 1985, with about 1,000 runners and raised $13,500, according to Argonaut coverage at the time.

“For the past 30 years, Jet to Jetty has been a critical fundraiser in the effort to help people achieve positive mental health,” said foundation President Karen Dial. “Airport Marina Counseling Service is an incredible community resource that has quite literally changed the lives of hundreds of families and individuals regardless of their socioeconomic level or ability to pay.”

García-Balis said the clinic’s mission of providing low-cost mental health services is now more critical than ever.

“We see things in the media all the time about the lack of mental health services, whether it’s about gun violence or other things. I believe [mental health] should be at the forefront all the time,” she said.

Serving as grand marshal for this year’s race is Mary Ellen Cassman, the clinic’s first executive director and a part of Jet to Jetty since the beginning. She and her late husband Alan Cassman co-founded the clinic.

In addition to the 5k and 10k races, children can participate in the Joan Conca Kids Fun Run and Walk, named for the former board member who died in 2011.

“There are so many long-time residents who participate in some way every year in Jet to Jetty. It really has become an integral part of the community,” said Jill Marcellus, the counseling center’s special events coordinator.

Entry fees are $35 to $40 for adults and $15 for kids, with prizes going to the top runners in various age groups.

Call (310) 670-1410, ext. 178, or visit for more information.