Students and Charlottesville community members gathered on Grounds Saturday to run in the 32nd annual 4th Year 5k. The run was organized by the University’s Peer Health Educators — a student group that aims to encourage holistic wellbeing among students — and is meant to promote a safer and more caring culture around alcohol consumption.
1,000 people signed up for the race that followed a loop around Grounds with the finish line on the South Lawn, according to Danielle D’Andrea Black, associate director of communications and marketing for the Department of Student Health and Wellness. This year, Shishir Sriramoju, 4th Year 5k intern and third-year College student, led the planning process.
“The race has always made a positive impact on the community,” Sriramoju said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily. “It signifies an event for everyone to come together and support alternatives and advocacy to high risk drinking behavior.”
The race took place on the morning of the penultimate football game this year but is traditionally held on the morning of the last home football game in memory of Leslie Baltz, a fourth-year student who tragically passed away due to alcohol consumption in 1997.
To honor Baltz, who studied art history abroad during her time at the University, partial proceeds from the event go to the Leslie Baltz Art Study Fund, which offers financial assistance for students studying art or art history.
This year, some proceeds from the race will also go to the University’s Collegiate Recovery Program. Proceeds are collected through participant registration, which cost $18 per person this year. Participants who registered ahead of time also got a t-shirt commemorating the race.
PHE collaborated with other groups including health and substance use service group Region Ten and the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad. Members of these organizations — including the Gordie Center, which advocates against hazing and substance abuse — stood at tables throughout the run offering students resources on how they can both identify and mitigate public health issues.
Fourth-year Commerce School student Alyssa Dioguardi ran in the race Saturday and has enjoyed the community aspect of running in the race with friends.
“It’s a really important cause,” Dioguardi said. “So I’m glad to be participating and showing my support … and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Julia Givens, Charlottesville resident and class of 1985 alumna, participates in the 4th Year 5k every year. She said the positive environment at the run this year was especially meaningful — last year, Givens said the event had a more somber feeling after it was turned into a memorial run in memory of the three University students and football players who died in the Nov. 13, 2022 shooting — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
“It's just nice to be around all the students again, especially a year after what happened last year,” Givens said. “We ran last year and it was kind of an interesting event. It was good to come out and see people kind of hyped up about it this year.”
Givens said community member involvement in the race should be encouraged as an important way to demonstrate the unity of the University and its surrounding community.
“We're one — it's not just a university and community separate,” Given said. “I'd like to see more community members here. We have a good friend of ours here running too, but we know a lot of other runners I'd like to get here.”
The community environment of the experience is reflective of PHE’s larger efforts to create a “community of care” on Grounds. Other projects, such as Outreach Programs and the Stall Seat Journal, similarly promote bystander strategies and encourage safety in alcohol consumption habits.
After the race concluded, the Cavaliers beat Duke in the penultimate home football game of the year.