In the wake of the tragic shootings at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary school in early December 2012, Miami University students came together this past Sunday to run the Run Newtown 5K in Oxford’s Community Park to raise funds for student programming in Newtown School District.
Miami senior Samantha Kent, a graduate of Newtown High School, has always played an active role in her community. By imagining and organizing Run Newtown, Kent said she hopes to provide learning opportunities for the local elementary school children by donating the raised funds to the Newtown International Center for Education (N.I.C.E), a program designed to provide students with educational opportunities.
“The funds will specifically go to the Sandy Hook Initiative, a chapter of the N.I.C.E.,” Kent said. “I’d like to see the elementary school bring in performers and give them something to grow towards, like exchange programs in middle or high school. The whole idea is to give these kids a legacy to grow up with and a goal to reach, rather than focusing on the tragedy.”
Executing this fundraiser as a 5K holds special meaning to Kent and her family.
“When I was abroad, I came home for Thanksgiving and surprised my family,” Kent said. “The Turkey Trot was the last memory of my town before everything happened. Even though a 5K is low cost, it was also a way for me to reconnect with that experience.”
The Miami community reached out to Kent and her family after the shooting and were key participants in this event.
“The majority of the participants were Miami students and faculty,” Kent said. “My parents flew in town, sorority sisters came and we received donations from people local and out-of-state.”
Kent also reached out to junior Kevin Carroll, president of business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, for further support in planning the 5K. Carroll said he was excited to be a part of an event that would help support the Newtown community.
“I’m really thankful that Samantha presented us with this opportunity,” Carroll said. “It’s always good to support a cause like Newtown and the N.I.C.E. program. It was a good way for the pledge class to get professional experience and bond with each other.”
First-year member of Alpha Kappa Psi, Max Snyder, described his experience as fundraising chair.
“Our brothers were assigned [Run Newtown] as our pledge project a little over a month and a half ago and began preparing right away,” Snyder said. “Before the 5K, we planned other fundraising events and tried to gain sponsorship. This included, FIFA tournaments, bake sales, grilled cheese sales at the Phi Delt gates and a couple of restaurant takeovers at Skippers, La PiÃ±ata and Fiesta Charra. It was nice to see the community come together in such a short time span, to put on a great event.”
Carroll said the 5k was a success.
“We had a good turn out and the weather was nice,” Carroll said. “We’re waiting to see how our final donations roll in, but we’ve raised an estimated $5,000.”
Kent expressed her appreciation for the support she has received from the Miami Community.
“I can only express gratitude for the support I see,” Kent said. “In the panhellenic community, entire chapters have sent teddy bears and lollypops. I appreciate the faculty telling me I’ve done a good job. I couldn’t have done this without them and the connections they’ve provided me. All the help I have received from this community has helped prove my point, that Miami is a beautiful community, just like Newtown, in all the right ways.”