Relay for Heat not stopped by the cold, runners followed Nemo

Frank Passalacqua, Sports Editor

Despite Nemo finding his way to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, the recent snowstorm also hit a large part of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
With the ninth annual “Relay for Heat” scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. on Feb. 9, participants found they had to deal with the aftermath of a blizzard.
As snowfall accumulated for around 6 inches in some areas, questions arose of how successful the event would be.
Will Terzaghi, Wilkes biology professor and running club adviser, started early to help prepare for the day ahead.
“We ended up holding the Relay for Heat in spite of the conditions and finished at 5:45 p.m.,” Terzaghi said. “I shoveled a half-mile path (from the 1.75 to the 2.25 mile markers, and had to clean it up repeatedly because the wind was drifting snow into it) and most participants went back and forth along this path, but nearly 10 participants ran the traditional path from mile 2 to mile 0 and back.”
As the weather threw a wrench into the runners’ plans, many participants delayed their starting time until the conditions got better.
“It definitely slowed everyone down, and a number of people scheduled to run in the morning didn’t show,” Terzaghi said. “The wind was worse than the cold; at noon it was 23 degrees but the wind chill brought it down to -3 degrees F.”
“For quite a while I was very afraid that we weren’t even going to make 100 miles, but once the sun came out about 11 a.m. people started showing up in groups and we ended up setting a new record for miles covered by a huge margin.”
In all, we covered 198 miles, of which 120 were covered by Wilkes undergraduates. I’m very pleased that we set the record for distance traveled and for numbers of participants, and I’m hopeful that this will also translate into a new record for funds raised.”
Last year, the event helped raise $2,500 for families in need. The Martin Luther King Jr. Fuel Emergency Fund was created to help families in the Wilkes-Barre area with children and senior citizens who are struggling to pay for heat during the winter because of an inability to pay.
It is unknown how much has been raised at this point, but Terzaghi is hopeful to have topped last year’s funding.
“We’re still waiting to find out some of the pledges,” Terzaghi said. “Based on our experience from previous years, we won’t know the final numbers for a few weeks. So far we’ve raised at least $1,500.”
The event helped bring out many new faces as well. Student Matthew Shortell was a first-time participant and was very happy to be a part of the event.
“I had never heard of Relay for Heat before until recently from my friends, and once I learned what it was about I really wanted to run,” Shortell said. “It felt great knowing that what we were doing was for a great cause, and that the money raised would help keep families warm this winter.”
Sophomore Christine Klingel retuned for her second year and reflected on helping out those in need. Despite the weather,  Klingel pressed on.
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I can do something I enjoy and help people in need,” Klingel said. “Last year was very windy and cold, but this year was even more challenging with the snow. I ran at 7 a.m. before the roads were plowed and was wary of going but then I thought ‘here I am in a warm dorm and their are people out there that need a warm place too.’ I ran a total of 6 miles for the cause and even though I slipped a couple times it was fun and rewarding in the end.”
The totals earned are expected to release within the next few weeks. Anyone looking to donate to the Martin Luther King Jr. Fuel Emergency Fund can send checks to the Wilkes University Running Club, 84 W. South St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766.
MLK Fuel Fund must be identified on the check’s memo line.