Girls Cross Country Plans Annual “Run for Relief”

Although the season is over, the girls cross country team is still running, but this time they’re doing it for charity.

November 1, 2016


Art by Estie Dillard

Every year, the girls cross country team organizes a “Run for Relief,” a charity run that benefits an organization, that usually takes place a week or two after the season is over. The run began back in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation across the Gulf of Mexico.

“I felt that we were a privileged group of people,” Girls Cross Country Head Coach Tom Mittman said. “I wanted the girls to look beyond themselves to the team, and I wanted the team to look beyond themselves to the community and to the world in general, just because I think that Americans tend to be spoiled and that it’s important for us to have a bigger world view than just yourself.”

Every year, a different charity, relief agency, or cause is selected and voted on by the team at the beginning of the season. This year, it is the ABBE Mental Health Center.

“ABBE [mental health center] is a not-for-profit behavioral health care provider serving families and individuals with experience of mental illness,” Stephen Trefz, the executive director of the Iowa City ABBE branch, said. “Stigma about mental illness is still prevalent and strong and presents a barrier to care for those seeking treatment. Having [the City High Girls Cross Country] sponsor this event and focus on mental illness and mental health is an excellent counter to this stigma and will encourage all of us to acknowledge that we have been touched by mental illness in one way or another in our lives and for us to support those individuals we know in seeking treatment.”

In years past, the team has raised money for causes such as the Darfur Relief, Steps for Breaths (an organization that raises money for pulmonary disease research), victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Free Medical Clinic, and, last year, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP). The funds raised for DVIP broke a team record with the team bringing in over $4,000.

It is not only the race that brings in funds. Throughout the season, many team members give their time volunteering to raise money for the event. Team members host car washes, set up registration booths around town, and walk around to local businesses asking for sponsorships.

The coaches do not organize any of the race, and they rarely assist in guiding the team members in charge.

“My role is as limited as possible,” Mittman said. “I just try to provide moral support, to work as an advisor. I help by marking the course, answering questions that girls that are in the leadership positions might have, being supportive as a participant, and trying to help promote it in the community.”

This year, much of that responsibility for organizing the event has fallen to Emily Bywater ‘17.

“Basically, I’m trying to make sure the run goes as good, or better, than it has in past years and to make sure everything gets done,” Bywater said. “I’m also trying not to do it all myself. So I’ve been trying to get a lot of other involvement. Sasha [Chapnick-Sorokin ‘17] and Nova [Meurice ‘17] have been very helpful. Celeste [Chadwick ‘17] organized a bake sale last week, Elena [Lyons-Macatee ‘17] has been working on getting stuff in the paper, and I’m going to make a signupgenius so that anyone else on the team can sign up [to help] on that.”

The run is taking place on Saturday, November 5th down in Lower City Park.

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