Feature Stories

MHS Cross Country Captains Host Virtual Run/Walk Fundraiser for Refugee Aid
MHS Cross Country Captains Host Virtual Run/Walk Fundraiser for Refugee Aid

From September 22-26, two MHS cross country captains are challenging their teammates, classmates and community members to run or walk as many miles as they can, all to raise money for refugee aid.

The Arrive Five, a virtual event organized by seniors Lucca Carlson and Austin Hunter, is a five-day virtual event and mileage challenge to raise money and awareness for refugees. Over the course of five days, participants will be invited to log their daily miles to become eligible for prizes, and they will also receive daily emails featuring refugee stories and ways to stay involved.

Lucca had always been interested in organizing a race, and co-captain Austin was searching for a service project to start as part of his IB diploma candidacy. "A charity race was the natural conclusion," shared Lucca. "We were inspired by the Class of 2020's refugee-focused Legacy project. We wanted to raise some awareness about persons with refugee status and raise some money at the same time."

While they had envisioned a five-mile race when they started planning their event in November 2019, the pair ultimately ruled out an in-person event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"Change isn't necessarily bad, and adaptability is perhaps the most important skill to have when planning an event," said Lucca. "Obviously, we never could've predicted a global pandemic, but I'm really satisfied that the solution we've come up with will still allow us to accomplish our two goals of raising money and raising awareness."

Lucca and Austin were drawn to the concept of a multi-day challenge because it provides extended opportunities for participants to engage with information through daily emails. "Doing a run/walk challenge with a focus on cumulative mileage and not time over a set distance also makes the event more accessible to everyone, and it helps capture the magnitude of the journeys of displaced persons," said Lucca. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, every year displaced persons collectively travel over a billion miles to the nearest point of safety.

Lucca and Austin have learned some important lessons through their event planning process. "Connections have immeasurable value. Minnetonka has lots of amazing alums and community members and even if they don't know something, they might know someone who does," said Lucca. Cross Country volunteer assistant Pete Miller, owner of the Lakes Running Company, shared his experience as a race director to help the two plan their event, and Minnetonka alum and professional runner Will Leer connected the two with Under Armour for prize donations. Fellow cross country captain Annalise Johnson designed the event's logo and t-shirt.

To learn more about The Arrive Five and register for the event, visit www.arrivefive.com.

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