As temperatures continue to drop, some members of the Northeastern Pennsylvania community need assistance with their heating bills. To help local families afford the cost of heat, the Wilkes University Running Club will hold its annual 100-mile Relay for Heat on Saturday, March 25.
“Relay for Heat aims to raise money and awareness for local families who cannot afford to heat their homes in the winter,” Eileen Friery, pharmacy student said. “Being one of the few fundraisers that raises money for this cause, Relay for Heat provides a much-needed service, especially given that we live in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
This is the 13th year that the running club is hosting Relay for Heat. Students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as other members of the community, are invited to participate in this family-friendly event.
“People of all ages should participate for many reasons,” Friery said. “Heat is something that is used regardless of ages, it is not specific to any one age group. No matter how old you are, this is a problem that could potentially affect you.”
Participants will meet at the path on the top of the dikes in Kingston at 6 a.m on the morning of the relay. There will be a table set up nearby where participants sign in and report back to after running their miles. Every runner runs a four-mile leg of the relay until the 100 miles is covered. Two people usually run at a time although sometimes larger groups run together.
“We do this to raise money to help poor families with their heating bills by getting people to pledge donations per mile or for a person,” Dr. William Terzaghi, Running Club adviser said. “All funds that we raise are donated to the Martin Luther King Fuel Fund, which is administered by the Commission for Economic Opportunity.”
Individuals can donate to the fund in a few different ways. They can either pledge an amount per mile ran, or a fixed amount. Participants are welcome to donate during the day of the relay. If people wish to donate prior to the event, they can make checks payable to Wilkes University Running Club, write MLK Fuel Fund on the memo line and mail the check to “Relay for Heat,” c/o Dr. Terzaghi at Wilkes University, 84 W. South St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766.
“I am extremely proud to be a member of the community here, and this [relay] provides me with a perfect opportunity to give back to a community which has given my university and me so much,” Friery said.
Relay for Heat encourages everyone to be active and also helps participants make a positive impact in the community.
“It’s really important in the community, especially on days like today, when there is so much snow,” Schlottmann said. “There’s a lot of people that unfortunately cannot afford heat so they’re living in cold houses.”
Whether people want to walk or run the relay, every mile counts.
“It’s a chance to get out and have some fun and get some exercise while contributing to a worthy cause,” Terzaghi said.
In previous years, Eileen Friery was the running club president and was responsible for organizing Relay for Heat.
“It requires a lot of planning, waiting for permissions from the city, encouraging people to get out there and run and so much more,” Friery said. “I have always had fun organizing the event, but my favorite part was easily the day of the relay.
Seeing all of my hard work paying off and giving a check to Commission for Economic Opportunity is a very rewarding feeling,” according to Friery.
Olivia Schlottmann has taken the lead in planning the 2017 relay as the new president of the running club.
“She has done a great job this year, I feel that this could very easily be our best year yet,” Friery said. “Olivia is really the spearhead this year, and she has done great things with this event.”
Last year the club raised over $2,000 through donations around campus and in the community.
“It’s been a success over the years. Last year was great because it was the biggest turnout we had,” Schlottmann said.
About 40 Wilkes students ran the relay back in 2016. “The biggest change I would like to see is for better participation mid-morning in the 9-12 time slots,” Terzaghi said.
Wilkes Running Club hopes to raise more than $2,500 this year.