Big Red Race Raises Funds in Stride

Dorothy Lee ’26 in News | May 10, 2024

          This past Sunday, May 5, the College Counseling Office hosted the 21st Annual Big Red Race, where students, faculty, and other community members, walk or run five kilometers.

          Reflecting on the build-up to the event, Holly Burks Becker P’06 ’09 ’12 recalled “finding sponsors, volunteers, and most importantly racers” as the largest challenges present. “We work with faculty, coaches, community service reps, heads of houses, and deans to get as many people interested and invested on campus,” Becker explained. The scope of the Big Red Race extends beyond the campus: “We send dozens of emails to different constituents, including alumni and parents, as well as past racers” Becker elaborated. In addition to outreach efforts, the College Counseling Office also devoted long hours to designing and ordering the T-shirts, trophies, and food on the days leading up to the race. Further, Becker noted how quickly everything happens on the day of. “We have to mark [the race course] with all those giant arrows and cones, and put volunteers at all the critical spots so that the Racers know where to go,” she stated. 

          Ultimately, the emphasis that the College Counseling Office puts on community participation echoes the message of the Big Red Race. “The goal of the race is to have a great, healthy, town-gown event that celebrates community partnerships, wellness, and neighborly care,” HBB stated. Not only do the race fees for students and faculties go to Homefront, Trenton, Lawrence Township Education Foundation and the Lawrence Township Community Foundation—organizations dedicated to helping under-resourced youth in the surrounding area—the race fees for children donated directly to those in need. 

          “We aimed to create a community event that everyone can participate in—little kids, students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, neighbors,” said Jeffrey Durso-Finley P ’13 ’14 ’19 ’22. He further described the event as “a simultaneous celebration of spring that promotes wellness and physical health.” Specifically, he named the Children’s Races to be his all-time favorite race. “Seeing the four-year-olds, for example, tear across their mini-race course and cross the finish line to a parent or trusted adult with big smiles and clutching their medals is priceless,” he explained. “I also love seeing the groups of students and faculty taking pictures, holding up trophies, and the big smiles - there's a joy in participating with friends that come, hold up trophies, and the big smiles - there's a joy that emerges when participating with friends at such an event that comes out on Race Day, and we revel in that energy,” Durso-Finley elaborated. 
          Maryam Mian ’24, a student runner, loved the race. “I am so glad that I got up and ran,” she detailed. She was especially grateful for how the race strengthened her bonds with the community. “I ran the race with Essie Chafin ’26, my prefectee and cross country teammate… I loved crossing the finish line holding her hand,” she detailed. To Mian, the Big Red Race marks her “last race at Lawrenceville,” and shows her how friends could “bring out the best in each other.”

          While the skies were gray, the energy at the event was contagious, and participants and organizers alike enjoyed the experience. “Covid took some of the wind out of the Big Red Race sail, but this year’s race puts us back on course to restore this great Campus tradition,” Becker concluded.