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Virtual Andrej 5k draws international participation

Published on September 28, 2022

Virtual Andrej 5k draws international participation

The ECSU Foundation called upon the Eastern community to participate in the fifth annual Andrej 5k Fun Run & Walk from Sept. 16–18. The ceremonial race serves as a fundraising memorial for Eastern alumnus and former RHAM science teacher Andrej Cavarkapa ‘09. The event raised more than $4,000 between all registrations and donations received.

Branko Cavarkapa, Andrej’s father, and a former Eastern business professor, started the event in 2018 to raise funding for the Andrej Cavarkapa Memorial Endowed Scholarship. The award aims to assist graduating RHAM students and biology majors in need of financial assistance. Since the race’s conception, the event has raised nearly $30,000.

“We are thrilled to see Andrej5k and the endowed scholarship continuing to be successful,” said former Andrej 5k committee member, Heather Lepper. “When we started this race, our goal was to keep Andrej’s memory alive through something he found great passion in doing — running.”

For the first time in the event’s history, participants were asked to celebrate Andrej’s life by joining an exclusively virtual community of supporters. Participants were asked to livestream their three-mile expedition as they traversed running trails of their choice. Sixty runners and walkers registered to take part in the online event.

Although the event changed in format this year, Rachel Valliere, a coordinator of the event, says that the online forum produced one major benefit — the inclusion of runners and advocates from anywhere on the planet.

“We were able to increase support and bring people together in a way that was previously thought to be impossible. People from all over the world were able to sign up, participate and expand the outreach of Andrej’s cause,” said Valliere. “We had runners out in California and Alaska, as well as New Zealand and Morocco. The comradery of an in-person race is nice but allowing more people to show their support for Andre’s cause was our main priority this year.”

Committee members intend on instituting the same level of flexibility to accommodate an increased number of online runners for next year's event. “Fall is a busy time for a lot of people,” said Valliere, “but because we held the virtual run over the course of a weekend, it allowed participants to walk or run on their own schedules.”

“Each year we are grateful for all the continued support that keeps Andrej’s legacy going,” said Lepper on behalf of Drej’s Home-team, a collective of Cavarkapa's local friends and family who’ve helped establish the annual event. “We look forward to running again with everyone next year.”

Written by Jack Jones

Categories: Foundation, Alumni