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Bruin Run/Walk mobilizes students to benefit children

Bruin Run/Walk

Sunday

Wilson Plaza
Registration: 6:30 a.m.
Race time: 8:30 a.m.

By Chandini Soni

May 17, 2013 1:28 a.m.

Hundreds of people will run through Wilson Plaza Sunday morning for the 14th annual Bruin Run/Walk.

And by 11 a.m., the plaza will be cleared to return to business as usual.

With that, a year of planning – numerous meetings, phone calls and emails – will come to an end for Alexx Robles, a fourth-year geography/environmental studies student and the director for the event.

This is Robles’ last Bruin Run/Walk.

“Wow, this just happened – I just spent nine months out of my life (planning for it) and it’s all done,” she said on how she will feel when the walk is over.

This year’s 5-kilometer run, which will start in Wilson Plaza and loop around campus, has the theme of “Run in the Wild, Save a Child.” There will also be a shorter race for children, performances and family activities.

The festivities will raise money to benefit the Chase Child Life Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital and will go toward the salary of a child life specialist, who will work with children at the hospital to address their emotional, social and developmental needs.

Twenty-five people helped plan the event, Robles said. Organizers expect to have about 150 volunteers on the day of the event.

Robles has been involved in planning for the Bruin Run/Walk for the past three years. She said she has been an avid runner her whole life and she participated in the event her freshman year as a runner, after seeing a flier in a dining hall.

The organizing committee, a division of the Undergraduate Students Association Council Student Wellness Commission, works throughout the year to plan the event. The committee started planning about a week after last year’s festivities.

Traditionally, the director and events coordinator stay up all night to fine-tune the last-minute details of the event. At 3 a.m., the rest of the committee arrives and begins to set everything up.

“Last year, my most prevalent memory was staying up all night,” said Hannah Chou, a second-year electrical engineering student and events coordinator. “The coffeemaker broke so we were running on adrenaline but were kind of delirious.”

Chou has been involved in the Bruin Run/Walk since high school. Her cousin, who was a former Student Wellness commissioner, introduced her to it.

After coming to UCLA, she joined the Bruin Run/Walk committee. She said she joined the committee because she found the event to be personal despite its size.

The event has raised less money over the past few years because of a decrease in funding and the declining economy, Robles said. The Student Wellness Commission received $10,000 less than it has in the past from USAC and, as a result, has concentrated more on raising enough money to put on the event, Robles added.

The event raised around $80,000 in 2011 and about $48,000 in 2012.

So far, Robles said this year’s event has raised $22,000.

Organizers expect to raise more money on the day of the event through last-minute registrations and a silent auction organized by Mattel Children’s Hospital.

Runners can also sponsor a child by running and raising money in teams. The children are divided into two categories – “Explorers” for children returning to the Bruin Run/Walk and “Wild Ones” for first-time participants. Each team has an animal mascot based on the child’s favorite animal.

Evan Beier is 3 years old and will be participating in the Bruin Run/Walk as an Explorer. He has been in and out of Mattel Children’s Hospital since he was 5 months old because he was born with complicated health problems.

His mother, Allison Beier, said he has been in the hospital every month since he had a kidney transplant in March of 2012.

“(At the Bruin Run/Walk,) kids get to be a star,” she said. “Last year, they brought him on stage.”

Nine-year-old Michael Helo is a new participant in the Bruin Run/Walk. He said his team’s mascot is an alligator because his favorite color is green. Last July, he received a heart transplant at Mattel Children’s Hospital.

Helo’s favorite activity was building a volcano out of materials generally found in the hospital, such as the plaster used to make casts, with Anna Tran, his child life specialist.

“Some of the things I love about my job are I get to have fun, be a kid and be creative,” said Tran, who deals with cardiac patients. “It can also be tough in that you have to deal with kids who are dying. With cardiac patients, the heart can just stop in a second.”

Helo said he was looking forward to participating in the Bruin Run/Walk.

“I’m excited that I get to walk with all my friends and run with all the people who took care of me,” Helo said.

Robles said she will be sad to see her last Bruin Run/Walk come to an end on Sunday.

“In an instant, it’ll all be over – everything (will be) cleaned up,” Robles said. “I’ll be happy, but I’ll also feel sad because a huge part of my life will be missing.”

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