Saturday’s cold, wet weather didn’t stop over two dozen students and community members from completing a 100-mile run Saturday to benefit a good cause.
The Wilkes University Running Club held its 14th annual “Relay for Heat” from Kirby Park , kicking off the start of the relay around 6 a.m. The fundraiser — which involves runners each completing a 4-mile trek along the Susquehanna until 100 miles have been cleared — benefits the Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Martin Luther King Fuel Fund. The fund helps pay heating costs for needy families throughout the area.
Club adviser William Terzaghi said after the running club formed in 2005, it needed to take up a cause and decided on helping CEO.
“A part of each club is you’re expected to do some kind of community service,” he said of the university’s rules, deciding on the fuel fund after hearing about it from his wife. “It seemed like raising money for the Martin Luther King Fuel Fund would be a good community service, and running a 100-mile relay in the middle of winter was crazy enough that it was just up our alley.”
As small groups of runners headed toward the registration table at the 2-mile marker on top of the levee, some ROTC students arrived to begin their own run, quickly signing their names on a sheet before immediately hitting the pavement as drops of water came down on them. While the rain wasn’t ideal, running club treasurer and Wilkes pharmacy student Kevin Kachurak said inclement weather isn’t going to stop anyone.
“I know there was snow on the ground last year,” Kachurak recalled, adding that the group raised just shy of $2,000. “But it was kind of a day similar to this.”
This year, the group planned to reach the $2,000 mark — and had already raised $1,000 before 10 a.m. While the event doesn’t carry a registration fee, donations are encouraged. The “Relay for Heat” is the biggest community fundraiser the club puts on throughout the year.
Coming into the finish line from his part in the relay, Wilkes University running club president Franco Balbuena took a quick breather, shaking some rain off before explaining why the event is so important. His second year participating in the relay, the 19-year-old said being able to aid the needy makes everything worthwhile.
“It’s all to help those homes who really can’t afford to have heating in their living environment, so I figured this is actually something really worth doing — even in the freezing rain,” he said with a laugh.
For more information, or to donate to the fund, contact the Wilkes University Running Club at 570-288-0776.