About 200 Boston University students and friends gathered early Saturday morning on the Charles River Esplanade for a 5-kilometer run and fundraiser organized by the BU chapter of FightJPA, raising $26,593 for research of juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common form of childhood brain tumor.
“I was drawn to it by the idea of meeting new people, getting involved at BU and getting in shape,” School of Education freshman Kayla Zeisler said. “But once I got into fundraising and learned more about JPA, it really started to mean something. I actually found out that a girl I babysat back home has a brain tumor. I didn’t know that when I signed up, but after I found out, it made this more personal.”
The 3.1-mile race began at the BU Sailing Pavilion and ended with food, entertainment and prizes at the Sargent Activities Center, where top runners and fundraisers were recognized with medals.
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior Kim Burke came in first among women, and College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Tim Kelly was the male winner. Sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi was the top fundraising team with $4,590, while School of Management sophomore Rachel Penzias was the top individual fundraiser with $1,341. The money raised will be donated to the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation.
Performers included female a cappella group Terpsichore, co-ed singing group The Treblemakers and BU’s slam poetry group Speak for Yourself. Families of local JPA patients, as well as the coordinators of the event, took the stage to thank all those who participated.
“You honor our children and the thousands of other children out there with JPA,” said Liz Ragnoni, whose 4-year-old son TJ has the disease.
Coordinators said the amount of people at the event and money raised was encouraging.
“The turnout was better than expected, especially for a program in its first year,” co-coordinator and SMG sophomore Ryan Impagliazzo said.
The run coincide with the annual Greek Day of Service and including several Greek organizations.
The PanHellenic Council, which oversees sorority life at BU, chose to volunteer at the event because it was within the BU community.
“Greek life is about giving back to the community, so it’s important that we get recognition for that aspect,” College of Communication junior and Delta Gamma member Alexandra Vaughn said. “Dean [of Students Kenneth] Elmore is helping us make our reputation more positive.”
“We would like to start publicizing over spring, so that students can raise money over the summer as opposed to two weeks before the event,” BU FightJPA Co-President and SMG sophomore Jason Kahn said.
FightJPA was created in November 2005 by SMG sophomore Eugene Mann and Linda Janower, whose granddaughter Samantha has JPA and is returning for more treatment tomorrow.
“I started working with Linda last October, and her passion made me see how neglected this disease was,” Mann said. “I did my own research and found so little information that I felt it was an important cause that needed to be addressed.”
FightJPA will hold another fundraiser next month with SMG Government, which is running its annual Casino Nite on Oct. 14. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.