Sixty-six runners and walkers gathered at the recreation fields underneath the pavilion on Oct. 6 to pin on their road identification numbers before the start of Shippensburg University’s first Mini-THON 5K race.
The hot and humid weather made for some tough conditions for the runners, but at 2 p.m. the crowd took off at a fast pace, breaking through the handprint-covered Mini-THON banner.
Participants paid $10 in advance to race and $15 the day of the 5K. The route took runners down Adams Drive, Burd Run, Fogelsanger Road, Route 696 and back up to Old Main Drive where the path circled back to the red and white flag finish line next to the hockey rink.
Members of Mini-THON stood along the roadside cheering and holding up motivating signs for runners.
The Bigler family was among the participants in the 5K, including their daughter, Dominique, a Four Diamonds patient. In her 18 years of life, Dominique has had synovial sarcoma six times, a rare form of cancer that typically starts in the legs or arms.
Seth Baker, a sophomore psychology major, walked with Dominique and her family during the 5K.
“Dominique is witty, determined and so sure of herself that there is no way she won’t achieve any goal she wants to,” Baker said.
For freshman history education major Arden Campbell, the 5K was as much a race for charity as a personal challenge for himself. Campbell finished in first place with a time of 23:20.
He has been running competitively since middle school for both track and field, and cross country. Campbell is competing as an individual athlete in order to qualify for SU sports.
The Mini-THON 5K was the start of his new training.
“This 5K was a huge influence and made me realize I cannot give up this passion of mine,” Campbell said.
All of the money raised from the 5K is going toward the Mini-THON event on Nov. 15. More than 100 colleges and high schools throughout the U.S. host mini-THONs. They replicate Penn State’s THON, a dance marathon that raises money for pediatric cancer.
This year, on Nov. 15 from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. in ShipRec, the dance marathon will take place.
Anyone can sponsor a dancer and contribute to the Four Diamonds Fund, which helps families pay for cancer treatment for their children.
There will be live bands, DJs, a dodgeball tournament, relay races, human Mario Kart, food, a pep rally featuring SU sports teams, guest speakers from Four Diamonds families and much more.
Since the founding of SU’s Mini-THON organization in February 2012, the volunteers have grown to an executive board of 18 members and 65 general members.
In order to make the Mini-THON as fun as possible, the organization hosts several fundraisers leading up to the event.
“We really design the night to make sure that everyone is having fun. Also, having the Four Diamonds families there allows students to put a face to the cause. It shows them directly that what they are doing by coming to our event is making a real difference in someone’s life,” Mackenzie Bender, executive member of SU Mini-THON said.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, there will be a Celeb Scoop at Rita’s from 6–9 p.m. that benefits the Mini-THON organization at SU. Saturday, Nov. 2, there will be a flag football tournament. “We’re also in the process of planning a few others around Halloween, so stay tuned!” Bender said.