The scent of free bagels and fruit wafted through the mid-morning air by B Lot at UNH on Sunday Oct. 16, as people arrived and registered for the Jog For Jaclyn 5k.
UNH senior and UNH Friends of Jaclyn club Co-president Caroline Kellett explained that the event is a 5k run/walk, most likely to have more walkers, with local Durham running clubs and students participating. The goal of the Jog For Jaclyn race is to fundraise and raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
“The program on campus is that we set up children that have pediatric cancer and match them to one of our sports teams. The children are ‘adopted,’ really they’re just taken in by the team, and the teams foster the feeling of being on a team and having support through the treatment. It’s been a fun experience,” Kellett said. “A lot of people showed up [to the event]; more than we expected on a Sunday morning.”
A few UNH sports teams are already involved with the club.
“There’s a boy named Andrew with the [men’s] hockey team; he’s been with the program the longest. Julian is with the football team, and then we have a girl named Kaylee with our club,” Kellett said. “Julian has a sister, Sophia, who we also bring into our club. She’s very energetic.”
According to Kellett, Friends of Jaclyn has been trying to find more children to bring into the program, but it has been difficult to find candidates in the surrounding area. “We try to find kids in the area because we don’t want the kids to have to drive two hours to get here. It takes a lot out of them. We want them to get the most out of what we have to offer,” she said.
Friends of Jaclyn is a nonprofit, nation-wide organization, though the UNH branch was re-established just two years ago. Kellett said that the original UNH Friends of Jaclyn branch “fell through.”
“It’s a lot of work, you really have to want to do it to keep it going,” she said.
Kellett said that, two years ago, she met with the girl who started the original branch, who told her that she could work with the Honors Society running a talent show. “We kind of [wanted] to do our own thing,” Kellett said. “So we started it up. We went from about 30 people [my] sophomore year and now we have 100 or more.”
Sunday’s turnout was better than expected, partially due to expanded marketing techniques. According to UNH senior and UNH Friends of Jaclyn club and Co-president, Jen Pearl, most of the participants were club members, but there were more general community members than anticipated.
“We posted on running club pages and that’s where a lot of the community is coming from,” Kellett said during the event. “They mean business. Someone was asking about numbers and I was like ‘You’re number two!’”
Sophomores Grace Canavan, Kelcie Mendes and Carina Berglund are three friends not in the club who participated in the race.
“I love running 5ks, especially when they’re for something,” Canavan said.
“I’m more of a recreational runner, but this will be fun,” Mendes said.
The three said that they tend to run together. “Usually when we run together we talk a little bit. We just pace it out and go,” Mendes said.
Each wore a stopwatch on their wrists to time themselves. “It will probably take [us] about a half hour,” Canavan said.
The race itself started on McDaniel Drive at 11 a.m.
Friends of Jaclyn club members were also there to help out, including Olivia Ross and her friends Devon Cassidy and Suzanne Fraher.
“We did most of the set up. Once the race gets started we’ll help by giving directions,” Ross said before the event.
Ross said that she found out about the club at University Day (U-Day). “I walked over and saw the table on U-Day and I actually knew one of the girls in the club. It’s a really good cause and I’d never heard of it. They do fun events like this,” she said.
Sunday’s event included a raffle, as well as the race and free food.
“By [the participants] running and paying for registration, that’s their donation. Our t-shirts and everything we make is for donation. It goes into our branch of the organization, UNH Friends of Jaclyn, to help us host events,” Pearl said.
“Now that Kellett and myself are graduating, I think we’re going to cut a check out of what we’ve made the past few years running it to give to the [national] organization,” Kellett said in regard to the UNH group’s plans on supporting the foundation on a national level.
Since both of the club’s dedicated co-presidents will be graduating at the end of this year, hopefully this won’t be the last annual UNH Jog For Jaclyn.