Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Student Honors Association (SHA) is hosting Clarion’s first ever student-organized color run, April 22 at noon to raise funds for charity and provide recreational activity on campus.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to Clarion PAWS, the Pet Adoption and Welfare Society, a volunteer-based, no-kill cat adoption center off of State Route 322; the color run is branded as Pigments for PAWS.
The “color run,” started by the Color Run, LLC in 2011, is an event in which runners are doused in brightly-colored powders as they jog, mixing entertainment with an active sport, and it has since gained popularity. It was originally advertised as “the Happiest 5K on the Planet.”
The 5-kilometer race will take runners on a route looping through Reinhard Villages to Harvey Hall on campus and back. Along the way, runners will be pelted by powdery clouds of color from designated color stations.
Registration for the event is open to students and non-students, and all skill levels, from beginners to advanced runners, said SHA Vice President Brandon Nielsen.
SHA President Eric Zavinski pointed out that the event would prioritize fun over competition. Completion times are not being recorded by the host organization.
Zavinski is a senior journalism major at Clarion and was deeply involved in the organization’s planning of the event. SHA, a recognized student organization (RSO) open to all students, seeks to connect honors students with the community.
SHA hosts Haunted Dorms during the fall semester to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Both Nielsen and Zavinski said that it was the intent of SHA to create a spring semester event that was just as big to maintain SHA’s presence on campus and to give back to the community.
On the inspiration behind hosting the event, Zavinski said he valued the volunteer work of PAWS and expressed desire to raise funds in an enjoyable way.
“The event is very important because we’re hopefully going to raise a lot of money for innocent cats and the hardworking volunteers that care for them, but also because a student-driven color run, the first of its kind on campus, shows that other RSOs, no matter how small, can also do something exciting and unique here at Clarion,” said Zavinski.
Nielsen reported gaining interest in donating to PAWS when he did volunteer work at the adoption center during freshman year.
PAWS is a not-for-profit provider of spaying and neutering services to the community at low cost to owners. Staffed entirely by volunteers and funded by donations, PAWS also offers educational programs for children, and even neuters feral, unadoptable cats before returning them to the streets.
Pat Hopkins of PAWS’ board of directors estimates that they currently have more than 50 cats, and that they find homes for around the same number in a given year. She expressed interest and gratitude in the event.
Support in executing the charity event, financially and otherwise, surpasses just SHA’s involvement. Other RSOs on campus have volunteered members to work the color booths, as well as donating funds for the colored powder. Nielsen credits families in the area; university faculty, administration, local businesses and RSOs for the financial support needed to host the run.
There are other obstacles to holding a color run in Clarion. Zavinski suggested that some of the difficulty stemmed from the lack of precedent for such an event on campus, at least from students, because the university administration hosted a color run for alumni last year.
One complicating factor was the Clarion Borough Council’s vote on the event. Any running or walking activities utilizing Clarion borough’s streets are dependent on the approval of the council, as it affects borough property.
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Brenda Dede, also vice president of the borough council in her second term, reported that, after some hesitation from a member of the council, the event was ultimately approved by a six-to-one vote with the caveat that color would only be thrown on Clarion University’s property.
The nature of the concern was over the potential accidental coloring of cars, houses and other property on Greenville Avenue and sidewalks.
“My hope is that the runners have fun and are able to raise the money that they are trying to raise,” said Dede. “But also that they would be cognizant of other people’s rights, property and their possessions.”
Color booths will be located on campus only.
Nielsen, a junior in molecular biology and biotechnology, expressed hope that Pigments for PAWS could become an annually recurring event. The goal, he said, is to have the event gain momentum, get recognized and to continue raising funds for PAWS in Clarion.
SHA has made registration available online, available now through April 19 at $10 for students and $15 for public tickets, T-shirt included. Runners can still register the day of the event for an additional $5, but will not receive the shirt.
“I think people can expect a really chill and relaxed run,” said Zavinski. “It’s going to be a fun way to let loose the day after CampusFest.”
More details can be found on SHA’s Facebook page and CU Connect.