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The Journal Gazette

  • A tracker is taken off a runner’s show after the completion of the 5K on Sunday. After the run, a silent auction was held, where $10,000 to $12,000 is usually raised. Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette

Monday, April 15, 2019 1:00 am

Running to help Haitian orphans

300 join Formula for Life

Saint Francis hosts 11th annual event started by student

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The scene at Hutzell Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon seemed typical of post-race festivities: runners and walkers piled plates with snacks and flocked to the 5K results taped to the walls as a singer-guitarist played onstage.

Amy Obringer, a University of Saint Francis biology professor, had a different perspective of the on-campus activity: It showed that one person can make a difference.

The 11th annual Formula for Life 5K Run/Walk stemmed from a student – now an alumna working as an emergency room physician in Chicago – inspired to feed orphaned Haitian infants.

The effort supports Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage, which students have visited during mission trips. Medical, dental, mental health and veterinary needs have also been addressed.

Over 300 people registered for this year's event, which included a silent auction of such items as restaurant gift cards, amusement park tickets, home decor, jewelry and maple syrup collected by a Saint Francis science class.

Past events have raised $10,000 to $12,000, student co-leader Lizzie Meyer said.

Julia Kuhar, a junior who previously volunteered for the event, said Formula for Life is widely supported on campus, with some classes offering incentives to get involved.

She completed the 5K this year, joining sophomores Sarah Roth and Bailey Matthias for a snack afterward. They, and others, crossed the finish line damp and cold from the rainy, windy weather.

Roth admitted she had second thoughts while running the 5K.

“But we kept running,” Matthias said. She added, “We're still in good spirits.”

Tables featured photographs from past mission trips and flyers about sponsoring an orphan, the salary of a cook and the salary of a teacher in Haiti.

Meyer, a senior, traveled to Haiti last year and spent two days at the orphanage, where the children were excited to see the group, she said. Other activities on the trip included visiting a hospital and setting up a mobile clinic at a nursing school to demonstrate how a clinic should be run, she said.

Saint Francis won't make the trip this spring due to a travel advisory issued by the U.S. government, Meyer said.

“I was heartbroken for them,” Meyer said of the students unable to go.

Involved since the beginning, Obringer said she didn't imagine this longevity from one student's idea.

“We'll do it until there's no longer a need,” she said, noting over $200,000 has been raised to date.