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Together We Run confronts hatred with love and running

Students organize a series of runathons to respond to Aug. 12 events

Disgusted by the events of Aug. 12, a group of students from the University planned Together We Run, a series of runathons to be held in Charlottesville, Washington D.C., Miami, Fla., Austin, Texas and Charleston, S.C. The runathons are meant to send a clear, unified message against the hatred displayed by the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, who staged the August rally in Charlottesville that turned chaotic and violent. 

Participants in the runathons have three hours to run as many miles as they can. Friends and family agree to sponsor each mile participants run. The money raised benefits local charities in each of the five cities, as well as the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism campaign. 

Together We Run: United States is the national runathon in which people can participate if they do not live in one of the five cities. This national movement is a remote runathon — not an actual event. Participants log as many miles as they can, on their own, between Sept. 8 and Dec. 12. 

The students hope to send and receive a positive message of support and unity in each of the communities in which they host a runathon. Fourth-year Commerce student Andrew Page is one of the eight students, planning Together We Run. Page hopes to get two things out of Together We Run — a monetary benefit for the organizations and a response from the community to the tragedies that occurred in Charlottesville. 

“Bringing people together to one particular event speaks volumes to hordes,” Page said. “Hopefully the number of people who attend these events will be a lot, and that will send a pretty clear message.”

For fourth-year Engineering student Amy McMillen, organizing Together We Run is a practical response to the hatred of the Aug. 12 events. 

“As I watched the events become national news, I felt a strange combination of heartbrokenness and depersonalization,” McMillen said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “I did not want to believe that white supremacists and neo nazis came to a place that I call home. Once I heard Andy had the idea for TWR, I thought it was a really great way for me to confront and process my emotions in an action-oriented manner."

One emphasis of the runathons is local engagement with communities. 

“We’re trying to work with local city people and local newspapers to make it a community-based event,” Page said. 

Third-year Commerce student Anna Kuno believes supporting local charities creates a stronger personal connection with individual cities while maintaining the event’s focus on eliminating racism.  

The money raised from each runathon benefits local charities in the five cities. The Charlottesville event benefits the Heather Heyer Foundation, the D.C. event One Nation Indivisible, the Austin event the Austin Justice Coalition, the Charleston event the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Miami event the Community Justice Project. The proceeds from Together We Run: United States go to the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism campaign. 

The organizers look to obtain help from more local sponsors in the weeks leading up to the events. So far, Random Row — a Charlottesville brewery — has agreed to host fundraisers and Richmond-based Health Warrior Superfoods is sponsoring Together We Run as a whole. 

The organizers strategically chose the locations for the runathons.

The D.C. runathon will occur right after the end of fall semester at the University. 

“The thought behind D.C. was that most of U.Va. are from [northern Virginia],” Page said.  “We’re hoping people will come out to that while they’re home.”

Kuno initially wasn’t sure how, if at all, she could respond to the events of Aug. 12. For her, Together We Run has been a way to grapple with not only the events in Charlottesville but also tragedies happening in other cities. 

“My first reaction was shock,” Kuno said. “Then I wasn’t sure how to react, if there was even anything I could’ve done. I think that this is a way for others who shared a similar feeling of uncertainty as to how to respond in a positive manner … I’m hoping it gives other people an outlet to take action against what happened.”