Central Michigan University kicked off its weekend homecoming festivities with the annual Special Olympics 5K run.
The Special Olympics 5K has been a fundraiser for more than 40 years, said Manager of Marketing at Special Olympics Michigan at CMU Erin Dougherty. The event is important in raising awareness and spreading the word of Special Olympics Michigan and its relationship with the university.
“It is a great way to raise awareness for Special Olympics and to let people know we are on campus,” Dougherty said.
A few hundred people were in attendance Saturday morning at Finch Fieldhouse and the surrounding area, where eager runners, supporters and volunteers anxiously waited for the run to begin.
Runners took a few moments to stretch and warm up in preparation for the 3.1 miles around CMU’s campus. The runners then pinned on their registration numbers and discussed why the Special Olympics 5K is so important to them.
“It goes to a good cause, it is nice to see all the support from CMU and the community because we host it,” Sterling Heights junior Sasha Rudow said.
Club Running at CMU participates in several 5Ks throughout the fall season, however, those that support good causes are the ones they enjoy most.
“I have a lot more fun with 5Ks for a good cause,” Rudow said.
Louisiana junior Danielle McDermott was running the 5K for her third time.
“I love the people, because everyone is so happy and supportive, even if you run it in three hours,” she said.
The energy before the race began could be felt by everyone: several runners were jumping up and down and dancing to the music playing. The location of the race and its proximity to the Mount Pleasant community added an additional personal touch for many.
“I like that this is our hometown and all the energy makes it a lot better,” Ruth junior Caitlyn Holdwick said.
Those who participated in the run were encouraged to raise money for more than 20,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities in Michigan.