Run, Walk, n Rolling through setbacks

Aleena Siddiqui '22, Page Editor

The race drew over 550 participants last year and was able to raise over $46,000 to donate to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Palliative Care.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the second annual Run, Walk n Roll was cancelled. However, according to race director Claire Sheeren ’20, a page was put together for online donations to continue the run’s purpose of raising money for palliative care.

The 5K race was started last year by Sheeren, whose sister has several autoimmune diseases. Sheeren said she was inspired by the people that gave so much to her sister.

“We wanted to give back to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the palliative care department because the department had just been a driving force in her care,” Sheeren said. “We ended up choosing to hold a run because we thought it could become a fun event for the whole community.”

Last year’s event was more than successful, according to parent director Laura Wholihan.

“We had over 550 participants and raised $46,000 (last year),” Wholihan said. “The money went directly to the palliative care department, and it was the largest single donation they had ever seen.”

Once the coronavirus outbreak started, Sheeren immediately went to work to figure out what they could still do, even with the cancellation of the event. She said that a virtual fundraiser made the most sense in terms of the impact they wanted to make.

“We knew that a lot of the patients and families in the palliative care department are now facing a lot more increased financial stress and emotional stress,” Sheeren said. “It’s just a lot because many of the kids are at risk for coronavirus, and if they get it, they could die. We really thought a virtual fundraiser could really assist these families right now.”

Claire Sheeren ’20, race founder, stands with her parents and sister, Elizabeth Sheeren ’18 before the start of last year’s race. This year’s race has been moved to an online fundraising format due to the coronavirus. Photos courtesy of Claire Sheeren ’20.

According to Sheeren, she and the other race directors decided to cancel the run right before they were about to do a major push for enrollment. She said this helped because they didn’t have to worry about refunding too many people.

“When we cancelled the race, our website emailed everyone who had registered,” Sheeren said. “Participants had the option to either be refunded or have their registration fee donated directly to the fund.”

With online donations, teacher sponsor Stephen Zaranek said he thinks the most important thing is that people know where their money is going and how important donations still are.

“This is such a great program, and to communicate the benefits to the patients, families of the patients and all of the staff (beforehand) will make the greatest impact to those donating,” Zaranek said. “The families who have children needing this specialized care are in need of support more than ever.”

Online donations go through a Go Fund Me put together by the University of Michigan according to Sheeren. This allows the money to go straight to the department at the hospital.

“It’s been going better than we expected with online donating,” Sheeren said. “A couple of weeks ago, we started our goal at $10,000 and we were hoping to reach that. We’ve gotten so much support and we have now raised over $27,000.”

One of the big things that has come out of this Sheeren says is the community coming together.

“It’s a really beautiful thing to see the community come together and all the support we’ve gotten,” Sheeren said. “When we decided to move to a virtual fundraiser, we emailed all of our corporate sponsors and none of them backed out or wanted their money back. It just shows how much people really care about the cause, and how they want to make an impact.

To donate: