Rutgers Against Hunger hosts annual charity run, despite weather warnings
Rutgers Against Hunger raised more than $6,000 and 600 pounds of food to donate to hungry New Jersey families through the fourth annual Homecoming “Run for RAH” charity fundraiser.
RAH manager Chris Retzko said the Rutgers University Alumni Association co-sponsored event gave participants the opportunity Sunday morning to walk through a health fair and either run a 5K race or one mile walk.
“We had a great Homecoming weekend,” he said. “We collected a good amount of food at the Homecoming game.”
Of the 300 runners who participated, each paid a $20 registration fee, Retzko said. Donations were also accepted online. The drive is still open, so the total collected through Internet donations is not yet available.
Last year’s race attracted 450 runners, said Retzko, who attributed the drop in participation to the anticipation of severe weather with the impending Hurricane Sandy.
“Every year it’s been growing [in popularity] but this year we had a few less,” he said. “People are worried about [Hurricane] Sandy.”
Cassie Kingsbury, coordinator of Reunions and Homecomings with RUAA, said all the money and food raised benefits Toni's Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Montclair, N.J.
The self-described “food ministry” serves residents in all 22 municipalities of Essex County, including Newark, the most heavily populated city in New Jersey.
Retzko said the charity was chosen because Essex County has a high level of food insecurity, defined as an inability for individuals to regularly have access to enough food to live. Nineteen percent of the residents of the county are classified as food insecure, he said.
While most of the event funding came from Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, the starting line was sponsored by North Brunswick-based Retro Fitness. The Robert Wood Johnson Health and Wellness Center and Leisure Fitness were listed as minor sponsors said Kat Decker, RAH program coordinator.
She said the event represented a necessary collaboration between many groups to help end the often-overlooked issue of hunger in New Jersey.
“It's the support of the Rutgers community and people of all kinds who participate that makes RAH great,” she said.
While charity was the main theme of the day, competition took a close second. Trophies were awarded to the top overall finishers and top male and female finishers in various age groups, Decker said.
Prizes were also awarded to the teams with the biggest turnout, largest amount of food gathered and most money raised, she said.
The 5K route wound through Busch campus with the start and finish lines in front of the High Point Solutions Stadium.
John Campegino, 20, of Basking Ridge, N.J., completed the course in 18 minutes and 22.51 seconds, securing a first-place finish.
Second-place finisher Matthew Grossman, a School of Engineering sophomore, finished the roughly 3.1 mile race in 19 minutes and 24.86 seconds.
He said both the spirit and the mission of the day’s events were resoundingly positive.
“It was a great experience, there was such a friendly atmosphere, there were lots of people of all different ages, everyone could run and it didn't matter where you finished, he said. “We got a chance to compete for a good cause.”