Freshman organizes 5K charity race

| Contributing Reporter

Washington University students and members of the local community will take part in the Take Steps for Kids 5K Run/Walk around campus this Sunday.

The event, organized by freshman Marc Hendel, will begin at 9 a.m. and will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, a charity program that the University already works with through Campus Y.

“I did an event before when I lived in South Florida,” Hendel said. “It was a charity track meet for kids, and it was always my goal coming into college to make a race for kids again but make it much bigger, more profitable and more fun.”

The event is not just open to the University community. As a result of Hendel’s advertising efforts, in addition to the 40 University students and children from Big Brothers Big Sisters already registered, 11 people from outside the University have signed up so far.

“We have dropped off fliers at Forest Park and the local running stores, and we went to the expo before the St. Louis Half Marathon and Marathon,” Hendel said.

The main event will be a professionally timed 5K walk or run around campus. The route will take participants around the main campus, down the South 40 and around the main campus once more, finishing with a “Rocky-esque” run up Brookings steps. Volunteers will be stationed on the course to hand out water. In addition to the race, there will be $1 raffle tickets for prizes contributed by the event’s sponsors.

Organizers are expecting a combination of 200 people from the University, the community and the kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hendel said.

People who have signed up are enthusiastic about Sunday’s event.

“I heard about the race just walking through the Wohl Center,” sophomore Rachel Meyer said. “I’m actually a Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters. It seemed like a good cause, and I’m personally involved in it. It also seemed like a good way to start my Sunday.”

“It’s a convenient location, so it’s easy for a lot of Wash. U. students who want to do a 5K to do one,” said junior Allison Stempel, a member of the Running Club. “It will be a good way to get the community involved too.”

“I thought was a great idea because Marc was so excited, and he was already very organized about what he needed to get done,” said Joy Kiefer, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences and the faculty adviser for the event.

Kiefer and Hendel are both confident that the event can become an annual tradition in future years.

“I thought it was a great idea for something that could eventually become a tradition here at Wash. U. to benefit a charity we already work with here through Campus Y,” Kiefer said. “I know that [Marc] has gotten a lot of support, a lot of sponsors. He’s been tabling, he’s been working with CS40 and through the Running Club, and I think that if we can get the word out, it will be great.”

“It’s a great way to close out the year, a great way to help a charity and a great way to involve the whole Wash. U. community,” Kiefer added.

Many participants also support the event’s focus on charity and community involvement.

“I think it’s a good way for kids to participate and a great event for raising awareness, to let people find out about [Big Brothers Big Sisters],” Meyer said.

“Everyone’s going to go home happier, less stressed and feeling that they did something good,” Hendel said.

Hendel expects to donate at least $2,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters from the event’s proceeds.

Sign-ups are taking place in the Danforth University Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on every weekday and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on every weeknight. Participants can also show up on the day of the race at Brookings Quad. Everyone who signs up before the day of the event is guaranteed a T-shirt. Sign-ups cost $12 per person.

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