Hundreds of runners and volunteers gathered for the seventh annual Race Against Racism on Saturday, April 27 at the DMZ.
The event was started in 2007 by a group of students that wanted to raise awareness about racism.
The race has raised over $9,000 in the past. This year, they raised $3,500, passing their goal of $3,000, according to Bridget Hauss, a co-chair for the KU Race Against Racism Committee.
Aside from the money from participants, the committee had a Rita’s Night in Dixon Marketplace and donations from sponsors on and off campus. The key sponsors were Recreational Services, Housing and Residence Life Services, the Association of Campus Events, Connections and the Residence Hall Association.
Every year, it gives its proceeds to the Olivet Boys and Girls Club, a Reading area program to help children finish school and go to college.
“We wanted to give back to a group that doesn’t necessarily get much,” said Hauss.
In the seven years of the race, there have been about 90 committee members, over 100 volunteers and over 800 participants. Hauss estimates that each year, there are about 100 to 150 participants, who are usually students or from the Kutztown community.
Friends of Rachel, an organization on campus, was present at the race. Members brought paper chain links, which contained kind acts that they did or others did for them, as part of their 70 Days of Kindness. The event, which started on Feb. 14, ended on the day of the race. The links were wrapped around the DMZ, part of the race’s path.
Cynthia Toe, a sophomore Clinical Psychology major, and Maria Petrillo, a junior Social Work major, were two Friends of Rachel members who participated in the 5k run.
Toe said the cause is something the organization believes in.
“We support anti-racism, anti-bullying–anything negative,” said Toe. “[The event is] big enough to get the word out.”
Petrillo likes that the race gives money to the Olivet Boys and Girls Club because “they keep kids off the street.”
President F. Javier Cevallos spoke at the opening of the race.
“It’s wonderful to see that this tradition continues, and it is now the seventh year that we here having the Race Against Racism,” said Cevallos. “I’ve always said that the only diversity statement that we can really have on campus is a very simple one: the sense that at Kutztown University, we respect every single person, period. This is a wonderful example of all you coming together to show that respect for all of us.”
Before the race, they took a pledge against racism and discrimination. There was a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Participants either ran or walked a 5k, or walked a 1k.
The event’s advisor, Matt Jaskel, said all of the runners’ times would be posted on the Recreation Services’ website.
The first place runner, Ethan Lindermuth, had a time of 19 minutes and 40 seconds. The female in first place was Meg Michaelian of Friends of Rachel, with a time of 23 minutes and 34 seconds. Friends of Rachel was the team with the best average time of 22 minutes and 47 seconds.
After the race, the committee gave out 26 prizes as well as raffle baskets that anyone could enter. Businesses such as Giant, Paradise Lost, Mamma’s Delight Pizza, Uncle Joe’s Pizza and Target donated gift cards and other items for the participants.
Hauss said the event will continue to benefit the Olivet Boys and Girls Club.
“There is no better time to start learning about combating racism than at an early age.”
The event was planned in November by the Race Against Racism Committee.
“[The race] makes us aware that racism still occurs today,” said Hauss. “We just want to spread the word to end it.”
By Emily Leayman