A student group at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith is spearheading a Boston Marathon memorial run on April 29 that has a two-fold purpose — to raise funds for recent terrorism victims in Boston and to wage war against evil.
UAFS student Casandra Bright of Alma, who is vice chair of the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at UAFS, said her group is teaming up with Western Arkansas Runners to hold the three-mile walk/run.
"This run is not just for the people who will not be coming home," said Bright. "It is for the runners who didn’t finish. It is for the runners who cannot run. It is to celebrate humanity and our undying effort to make the world better in the face of evil."
The event — named #BostonStrongFortSmith — begins at 6 p.m., with participants meeting at the UAFS Bell Tower. Those walking and running will make the one-mile loop around the campus three times, one time for each victim who died when bombs exploded April 15 near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon.
Registration fees and donations are not required, but Bright said there is a recommended $5 donation.
"ASME doesn’t want a registration fee to get in the way of people coming out to show support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing," said Bright.
Donations will go to The One Fund Boston Inc., an organization formed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to raise money to help those families most affected by the bombings. Participants can write checks or bring cash, with ASME making one large donation to The One Fund.
Bright, who started the ball rolling to have the memorial run, said that ASME has not previously sponsored a running event.
"Several of our ASME members are avid runners and were shaken by the events in Boston," said Bright, who added that the Boston Marathon and ASME both have international participants or members.
"Many people who participate in the Boston Marathon do so in order to raise funds for charity. Those people need our help now. We want Fort Smith to run together. We want to show our strength and unity. We want to run for those who lost a friend, limb or life on Patriot’s Day. We are running to make sense of a tragedy in the best way we know how."
Rose Deal, president-elect of Western Arkansas Runners and owner of Plato’s Closet, said WAR is happy that UAFS asked the runners group to be a part of this run.
"Our hearts are with the families of the three victims, with all of the injured and with every single runner and volunteer that was part of the Boston Marathon this year," said Deal in a statement. "We want to be a part of this run at UAFS to not only raise money for Boston, but also to show that there is hope and unity among runners.
"You can’t bring us down because we will rise up stronger. We are WARriors!"
Dr. Michael Reynolds of Fort Smith, faculty adviser for the ASME chapter, said he is proud of what the students are doing.
"I am thankful for Casandra putting this event together," Reynolds said. "This will be a great opportunity for students to give back to others in need."
Giving a brief welcome to participants at the UAFS event will be Dr. Lee Krehbiel, vice chancellor for student affairs. Both Bright and Deal will make brief remarks, followed by a moment of silence.
#BostonStrong is being used by numerous groups across the United States to show support for Boston.
For more information on the event, contact Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org, Reynolds at Michael.Reynolds@uafs.edu or 479-788-7719, or Deal at email@example.com.