'Run for Refugees' raises money, awareness for International Rescue Committee
U.Va. students organize run-a-thon to directly support refugee community
A group of University students organized the Run for Refugees run-a-thon Sunday to raise money to support the International Rescue Committee. The event was created as a part of the students’ project management course in which they were tasked to raise money for a Charlottesville charity.
The six-person group that led the effort found their interests aligned with their desire to help the refugee population of Charlottesville.
“We all really support the refugees that are here in Charlottesville,” third-year Commerce student Andy Page said. “We thought about what we could do and came up with this run-a-thon idea.”
Because the group was under the time constraints of the project, and they had to publicize the event quickly, they decided to use the run-a-thon pledge system.
“Because of the way that we’re doing this with a smaller number of runners and the pledges, our upfront costs are a whole lot lower,” third-year Commerce student Aaron Anderson said. “We’re able to maximize the back end on how much we’re able to give.”
The pledge system helped counteract the potential problem of holding the event on Easter Sunday, which may have deterred some people from participating. However, others found ways to both attend the event and to celebrate the holiday.
“I came right from sunrise service,” said Megan Newman, whose daughter ran in the run-a-thon. “I think that it is a healthy and a Christian thing to do, and I just think that it’s a good thing to do on Easter morning.”
Bob Bower, a participant in the run-a-thon, was also motivated to come out despite the timing. Bower found out about Run for Refugees from the Ragged Mountain Running Shop’s website.
“I hope they do this again next year and get the word out better,” Bowser said. “Even if they’re crazy enough to have it on Easter.”
Anderson said holding the event again in the future is one of the group’s goals.
“We wanted to make something that could potentially last and be sustainable,” Anderson said. “We’ll build a retrospective, that’s kind of like a project manual, so that we can hand it off to one of [the CIOs] next year, and they don’t have to figure it all out.”
The group was able to work with the IRC to ensure the money they raise goes directly towards helping refugees. Anderson said they are trying to promote the idea that the IRC not only helps the refugees resettle but also helps integrate them into the community.
Anderson also pointed to the importance of tackling this sort of issue at the local level.
“I think on some level, a lot of students want to solve this five million refugees from Syria problem, and it’s so big, and it’s so far away, that we can learn about it and we can do things, and there are a lot of people that are working on that bigger issue there,” Anderson said. “But at the same time, I think we’re uniquely positioned essentially as an enlightened community to really start that exchange, to work with the people who are right here.”