Most people don’t think about students when they think of the leaders of non-profit organizations or charitable groups. But four New Jersey students have turned that around. These young people are leading the race to raise money for causes they believe in, and they are all coming together to participate in the Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers University on be held on April 21.
CGI Racing is proud to partner with these incredible non-profits. Not only do these organizations help those in need, but they also motivate and inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyles, and to support a worthwhile cause while doing so. That’s what Unite is all about!
Joe Benun started Team U a year and a half ago, when he was beginning his Freshman year at Princeton University. Team U is the country’s first intercollegiate fundraising marathon team, combining a healthy lifestyle with raising money for important causes.
“Anyone can simply write a check,” Benun said. “But the idea behind Team U is that people can transform their own lives as well as raise money for charity. Some of our participants have never ran a race before, but we teach them that it’s possible. We help them reach their potential. Team U gives college students a reason to not only do something good for themselves, but to do something good for the world.”
This year, Team U will bring a team of almost 100 to the Unite Half Marathon. To prepare them for the race, Benun (a certified personal trainer) and his leadership team put on group runs through Princeton University’s campus, lead various fitness classes, and provide social gatherings to help group members support each other.
Through the Unite Half Marathon, Team U will be raising money for the construction of the Shoe4Africa Public Children's Hospital, in Eldoret, Kenya. Shoe4Africa recently broke ground, and the Unite Half Marathon will commemorate this milestone. To learn more about Team U, please visit them at HERE.
Rutgers PhD student David Hersh is also looking to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children. Hersh visited Kenya in 2005 for a study abroad program while in law school. A visit to several orphanages left Hersh with a strange feeling of attachment… and a desire to do something to make a difference. Three years later, he formed The Endeleo Project. Endeleo is the Swahili word for progress, and the organization’s mission is to give children in developing countries the tools they need to improve their world by linking innovative educational organizations in the developing world with the resources of charitable people in the developed world.
“The Endeleo Project raises money on a project by project basis,” Hersh said. “We help by raising money for a school’s science lab or build computer lab, for example. These are tangible things that children can benefit from immediately. It’s inspiring for our donors to see that they’re really making a difference in the life of a child.”
The funds raised from the Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers University will be used to support the efforts of The Barrio Planta Project, an education initiative created to empower both children and adults in Nicaragua. The program’s projects include English and computer classes, after-school tutoring, a creative arts program, athletic programs, and healthy recreational activities. To get involved, or to learn more about the projects and organizations that Endeleo directly supports, visit them HERE.
It’s not just college students who are running to make a difference. High school students are participating as well. The Lawrenceville School’s Coco Doll, 17, and Allie Gaston, 16, decided to challenge themselves and register for the Unite Half Marathon. Neither girl had completed a half marathon before, and they wanted to prove to themselves that they could do it. To help them train, they partnered with one of the athletic trainers at their school, and then decided to create a team of students and faculty from the Lawrenceville School. Before they knew it their team, Big Red for Kids, was up to 100 participants.
Because Trisomy 18 and Williams Syndrome are two genetic disorders that have affected members of the Lawrenceville community, Doll and Gaston decided that they would use the Unite Half Marathon to raise both money and awareness. Big Red for Kids will run to raise money for both the Williams Syndrome Association and the Molly Bear Foundation. The girls hope to raise enough money to help families whose children have been diagnosed with these genetic disorders. “We want to play a part in improving the lives of these children,” said Doll.
Doll and Gaston are thrilled that so many members of the Lawrenceville School are coming out to help. They had no idea their little challenge would grow into such an outpouring of the community, and they are very grateful for the support. To learn more about Big Red for Kids, please visit them HERE.
Click HERE for more information, or to register for the Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers University!