After Tom Linsenmeyer committed suicide in 2001, his brothers and sister decided the best way to keep the student-athlete's memory alive would be a run for charity.

Now in its 12th year, Tom's 5K Reindeer Run raises thousands of dollars for Sarah's House, an emergency shelter for women and families in Anne Arundel County. On Saturday morning, about 300 runners braved the cold in sweatpants and headbands to run the 3.1-mile lap around West Laurel, with proceeds expected to be between $5,000 and $10,000.

"The need is greater than ever," said Bruce Clopein, the volunteer resource manager for the shelter. Despite the formal end to the recession, he said, the number of those seeking help at the shelter continues to rise. And government funding has tapered off.

"It's been awe-inspiring what this family has been doing for Sarah's House," said Clopein. "This race is a great example of how the community steps up to the plate."

The Linsenmeyer siblings do little advertising for the 5-kilometer run, and it's managed in a relaxed fashion, with runners not formally timed except by a massive digital clock at the finish line.

Tom Linsenmeyer, a 17-year-old senior at St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, was a star athlete who played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. He jumped to his death from the Brooklyn Bridge Road overpass onto Interstate 95.

"His death was a shock to us," said John Linsenmeyer, Tom's brother.

Sarah's House, John Linsenmeyer said, "really gives people a second chance at life." He added that it was important that the shelter, which is housed in old World War II barracks at Fort Meade, is local.

"With a big charitable organization, you can't really see your dollars at work," he said.

Sarah's House provides emergency and transitional housing, classes, counseling and other services to women and children, and some men. The shelter typically serves about 120 to 140 people at a time and is often at capacity at this time of year, Clopein said. Most of those in the shelter are children.

Many of the 5K runners, who ranged from schoolchildren to older people, have been running in the race for a decade or more, Linsenmeyer said.

Chris Roudiez, who moved to Chicago but was back in the area for the holidays, sported a pair of Maryland-flag running shorts, finishing about a minute after the first person to cross the finish line.

"It's always nice to do a race that's for something rather than just running fast," said Roudiez, 26.

Daniel Strassler of Thurmont said he was running with his boss at an engineering firm in Hanover. Strassler, 30, joked that besides raising money for charity, his goal was to "show them defeat and beat them."

He added: "All in good fun."

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