Raise, Run, Eliminate


The Sunday morning spring sun rises over Kusel stadium, slowly warming the turf and pavement.  It is 7:30AM, and volunteers with sweatshirts and cold noses gather to help set up tables and cart water bottles and bagels to the twenty-yard-line.

It’s April 23rd—race day—and Mariemont’s Key Club is ready to help save lives.

Kiwanis International, the larger organization that oversees high school Key Clubs, has partnered with UNICEF to create the Eliminate Project.

Key Club volunteers Lainey Newman, Holly Byers, Clare Purdy, Marin Valentine, Emily Ferguson, and Alex Wilson were the first to arrive at Kusel on the 23rd (PHOTO BY KAPCAR).

This campaign seeks to raise money to vaccinate families against maternal and neonatal tetanus. In third-world countries, approximately 160 newborns die from this each day.

The Eliminate 5K first began at MHS in 2013, created by then-senior Sarah Blatt-Herold (’14).

In the past three years, MHS has raised over $30,000 for the cause. Vaccinations against maternal and neonatal tetanus costs only $0.60—which immunize both the child and the mother. This equates to saving over 50,000 lives.

A fundraiser of this size gathers attention from the larger community. “We are the number one fundraising Key Club in Ohio and within the top three in the world, as far as raising money for this project,” says Key Club teacher adviser Julie Bell.

In 2013, MHS’s Key Club was honored with The Next Generation Award by 4C’s Youth 2013 Champions for Children.

While the payoff is certainly rewarding, students chairing the race spend countless hours working up to race day. Key Club breaks the event planning down into committees, including volunteers, sponsorship, publicity, and party planning.

“It’s a great learning experience for the students who are serving as leaders for the event,” says Bell.

Sponsorship co-chair, junior Kaleigh Hollyday, reached out to local business owners for race sponsors: “It brings all the businesses together to help our school help the world,” she says.

Junior Alex Wilson served as Volunteer Co-Chair for the race and coordinated members of Key Club to help set up, clean up, and direct walkers and runners along the race course.

Wilson got involved at a Key Club meeting this past winter. “Will Weston was talking about the 5K and how he needed committee heads, and I decided to get involved because it’s an awesome cause,” he says.

As chilly dawn turns into a beautiful morning, runners line up at Kusel Stadium (PHOTO BY KAPCAR).

Mrs. Bell adds, “These kids do it all themselves and I’m here to advise, but when I say they do it all, they do it all.”

Even those who do not find themselves on a committee still contribute to the race’s success.

As a Key Club member, Junior Erin Ramey walked the 5K in a speedy 44 minutes. She says, “To be able to be a part of something this big fulfills the mission of the club and helps create the spirit within the students and club about wanting to help in the community.”

The race itself included both runners and walkers, many of whom were students, parents, teachers, and Kiwanians.

Participants wound up Miami Bluffs, continued down to the Mariemont pool, and crossed Wooster Pike again with a police escort on their way back toward the high school.

Freshman Erin Kelly, top female finisher with a time of 23 minutes ran the Eliminate 5K for the first time this year.

“It was really fun,” she said. “The hill was really hard though.”

Chair of the event, junior Will Weston says, “We raised money for a good cause, and we’re looking forward to advancing the project in the future.”

Volunteers, walkers, and Key Club members enjoy the post-race celebration (PHOTO BY KAPCAR).

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