Rutgers groups host 5k for children's hospitals

<p>The first Wishes 5k raised $500 for each of the four hospitals being sponsored by the event.</p>

The first Wishes 5k raised $500 for each of the four hospitals being sponsored by the event.

"Wishes 5k," a 5-kilometer run at Rutgers, was named after the wish lists of several different hospitals in the New Brunswick area created for children in need.

On Sunday, March 6, Rutgers hosted its first annual “Wishes 5k” run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event was conducted by the Project Sunshine: Rutgers Chapter, the Undergraduate Social Work Organization, the National Association of Social Workers—New Jersey Chapter and Brother Jimmy’s Barbeque.

The proceeds will be donated to Bristol-Meyers Squibb's Children Hospital, Children's Specialized Hospital,the Children's Hospital at Saint Peter's and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital.

The three hospitals in the area gave the event organizers lists of items needed said Michelle Mikhno, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and Children’s Specialized Hospital chair of Project Sunshine.

The two main organizers of the event were the Undergraduate Social Work Organization and Project Sunshine: Rutgers Chapter.

Valeriya Gershteyn, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and leader of the Rutgers chapter of Project Sunshine, and Anthony Gallo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the Undergraduate Social Workers Organization, helped run the event.

“We had about 10 board members organize it (from both boards), and about 15 volunteers to actually make race day happen," Gallo said.

The event consisted of a 5-kilometer run around Buccleuch Park near the College Avenue campus. The runners were divided into two groups — runners and walkers. The runners completed two circuits of 1.5 miles each while the walkers walked a single 1-mile loop, Gallo said.

Tickets were sold at $15 per runner, and $10 per group or walker. There were 96 runners preregistered for the event and four registered the day of, Gallo said.

The attendees were a mixture of newcomers and regular participants from Rutgers and other schools, as well as members of the public. Participants had various reasons for participating.

Karla Gary, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, along with her friends Tara Bisson, from New York University and Anneth Drew, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, were among the newcomers.

“We’re very passionate about the children. I support the kids. That’s why I’m here,” Gary said.

All three said donating to a children’s hospital was a main deciding factor in participating in this event.

Francis Policastri, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, was among the “regulars."

“I hadn’t (run) a 5k in a while, and I thought it would be fun, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get some friends together, have a bonding experience, and raise some money for charity,” Policastri said.

The social aspect of the race is what attracted many students to participate in the race. Getting people to come to the event was less of an “organized process” and more from word of mouth, Policastri said.

Bisson said she attended the event because her friends were running in it.

Both Gallo and Gershteyn were optimistic about the turnout.

“We created an entirely new event and marketed it and brought out 100 people, and raised over $2,000 to buy these items for the hospitals, which comes out to about $500 each,” Gallo said.


Jonathan Xiong is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in biology. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @ra567.

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