Silver Chips Online

Run-O-Vation raises thousands of dollars for New Orleans aid

Hundreds participate in the Blazer-organized race

By Jenna Bushnell, Online Features and Humor Editor
September 6, 2008
The Montgomery Blair Katrina Project (MBKP) held a five-kilometer race along Sligo Creek Parkway for renovation efforts in New Orleans on Aug. 28. More than 350 people of all ages participated in the race, and the group, made up of Blair Communication Arts Program (CAP) seniors, has raised over $11,000 for the cause so far, according to co-organizer Camille Huang.

Aside from race registration fees, the group received additional donations from supporters of the cause. Because the group is still receiving checks from various benefactors, they will not be able to determine a precise total for the next few weeks, Huang said.

Proceeds of the run will go to Hands On New Orleans, an organization that leads volunteer projects for the rebuilding of New Orleans. The CAP seniors who coordinated the event exceeded their initial goal of $5,000. "We made a lot more than we expected to make," senior and MBKP member Greg Vogel said.

Reporters from FOX 5 and the Gazette reported on Run-O-Vation, in part because of the onset of Hurricane Gustav, which, at the time, had the potential to devastate New Orleans again. The MBKP regretted the irony of the coinciding dates the race was scheduled to commemorate the third anniversary of Katrina but the new storm made the cause more relevant. "We were able to raise more awareness," Vogel said.

More than 30 volunteers from Blair came to help with the race. Afterwards food, drinks and various items with the Run-O-Vation logo were distributed to race attendees. Sponsorship from companies, primarily from the downtown Silver Spring area helped provide goods. "I was thrilled with the amount of businesses that contributed," Huang said. Among them were Eggspectation, Pacers, Austin Grill, Color Me Mine, Dick's Sporting Goods and Peterson's Developing Cos.

Blair teacher and project sponsor Kevin Shindel was delighted to see that the hard work his students put into arranging the race pay off. "It was extraordinary," he said. "I was proud to see students who were proud of what they did."

The overall winners for the men and women's race were Luis Navarro and Karen Young, respectively. Navarro finished in 15:57 and Young followed with a final time of 19:54; however, the course was only 4.5-kilometers due to a course error. The highest-placing Blazers were sophomore Theresa Regan, who came in third for women, and senior Rutvij Pandya, who placed second for men. Prizes for the winners are going to be mailed in the future, Vogel said. Sponsors donated gift cards and movie tickets for the winners.

In addition to the 5k, a 1k fun run was held for children under 12. All of the participants were given the opportunity to run through the finish line tape. "It was a cute thing to do," Vogel said. "Everyone was a winner." Prizes for the children included Mardi Gras beads and Webkinz stuffed animals.

A shortage of numbered bibs for runners and difficulties with the designated streets for the course did not discourage participation. The MBKP regarded the matters as minor problems, and the race continued without issue. "It went amazing considering it was the first year," Huang said.

Spirits were high at the run, and organizers were excited with the turnout in both runners and sponsors. Huang's favorite part of the race was "how the community came together," she said.

Because of the success of this year's Run-O-Vation, coordinators Lucas Alvarado-Farrar, Neva Bowers, Eliot Gold, Camille Huang and Sophie Schwadron are already planning another race for next year and wish to get more of Blair's population involved to continue the MBKP's legacy. "If we do it next year, we hope for a larger turnout and more community involvement," Huang said.

Shindel was delighted with his former students' drive and success in planning such an event of such magnitude. "With some real determination, real achievement can occur," Shindel said.

Editor's Note: Neva Bowers and Rutvij Pandya are Silver Chips section editors. Lucas Alvarado-Farrar is a Silver Chips Online section editor. Sophie Schwadron is a Silver Chips Online editor-in-chief.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8446