Running Club raises $3750 for local Big Brothers Big Sisters

| Staff Reporter
Johann Qua Hiansen | Student Life

Over 150 runners competed in the Take Steps for Kids 5k through campus on Saturday. The run raised over $3,750 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri.

With Brookings Hall as the backdrop, 184 runners, walkers and even a dog began a five-kilometer run through campus in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri.

Started just last year, the now-annual Take Steps for Kids is fast becoming a tradition at Washington University. Over $3,750 was raised for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri in the event organized by the Washington University Running Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs older individuals and college students with area youths in a mentoring program.

Just 18 minutes and six seconds later, senior Andrew Luecking was the first across the finish line.

“I definitely approve of the cause,” Luecking said. “It was one we could make a big difference for.”

Over a minute passed before sophomore Jake Shaw ran through the Brookings Arch and came in second. Classmate Joshua Kallman finished third overall. The top three female runners to finish were sophomores Lacey Vogel (20:33) and Catie Reynolds (21:09) and 11-year-old Hadley Karandeff. All the runners and walkers finished within an hour of the start time.

Sophomore Marc Hendel led the organizational efforts to foster a great run with dozens of volunteers from the Running Club, Campus Y and Alpha Phi Omega positioned along the route offering encouragement and direction or handing out water.

“Marc Hendel did really, really well organizing this entire thing,” Vogel said. “I’m really proud of him.”

Hendel said he was overjoyed with the amount of improvement from last year’s race, as competitors enjoyed the new race time of 5:30 p.m. and said they will be excited to come next year. The more than $3,750 that was raised was far above the goal of $1,500. There was an increase in “little siblings” from three last year to 30 this year, plus more community and Big Brothers Big Sisters involvement.

The 5K was opened by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri President Becky James-Hatter, who thanked the Washington University community for its support. Her little sibling started the race after Mosaic Whispers sang the national anthem.

“It was really great to hear the stories from people who participated in the program,” Vogel said. “It really makes me want to get involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.”

People ran in groups, in pairs and individually, with competitors of all skill levels represented. Sophomore Nicole Bobbitt ran to provide moral support for a friend whose Wash. U. to-do list included running a 5K.

“We both love the cause and loved Marc’s enthusiasm,” Bobbitt said.

Some listened to music, others chatted, and one pair even tossed around a tennis ball as they ran. Most of the race went off without a hitch, though there was a shortage of T-shirts and water in the end. Vitaminwater, a sponsor, provided free drinks to competitors. Students who lived on campus were asked to leave their name and e-mail address for the Running Club to deliver their shirts.

Each of the top five finishers among the male and female runners received plaques and a running shirt. Several area businesses also contributed various prizes, including tickets to the Pageant, T-shirts, soap and gift certificates that were all raffled off. Members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity sold donuts to raise more funds at the race.

At the end of the run, Henry Biggs, associate dean of students and director of undergraduate research, talked about the impact that being a Big Brother had on him. He was paired with Jamyel Collins 26 years ago. His relationship with Collins flourished, and he was the best man at Collins’ wedding. Years later, Collins was the best man at Biggs’ wedding. Collins flew from Cambridge, Mass., to speak at the run and support Biggs. “Every match is a life changed,” Hendel said.

Though only in its second year, many are hopeful that the run will continue to grow. “I hope they continue to bring people out to speak and remind people how we help Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Bobbitt said.