GCU Outreach Manager Never Stops Running for Children of ‘Run to Fight’
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Race planning is a nonstop assignment for Jose Moreno.
He is especially busy this time of year, with just one week to go before thousands of people flood the campus of Grand Canyon University for the third edition of the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer.
Moreno, GCU’s community outreach manager, helped increase attendance from 1,500 runners in the inaugural run in October 2011 to an estimated 3,000 runners (with as many as 4,000 in attendance) for the upcoming race on March 9.
Bill Jenkins, vice president of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at GCU and a cancer survivor himself, conceived of the event to create awareness about childhood cancer and to raise money to help young cancer patients and their families. GCU’s first two races raised a total of $70,000.
Proceeds from race registration and fundraising benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Children’s Cancer Network, an Arizona nonprofit dedicated to helping families through the emotional, physical and financial challenges of a child’s cancer diagnosis. This year marks the first time runners have joined fundraising teams. So far, GCU has raised around $25,000, though the amount grows progressively each day leading up to the event.
“This isn’t just something we put on,” said Moreno, who spends a majority of the year planning and organizing the event. “We are doing a service for these children and families (affected by cancer). This is a way for families to give back.”
|Run to Fight Children’s Cancer|
|For more information and to register for either of the races, go to the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer website at www.runtofightcancer.com. The site explains how to get involved with the cause and details on the races. Friend the race cause on Facebook at /runtofightchildrenscancer and follow it on Twitter @Run2Fight.|
The event is both a 10K run and 5K run/walk that starts and finishes on GCU’s Phoenix campus. The course begins in front of GCU Arena and moves in a rectangle around the neighborhood, following a route west along Camelback Road, north on 35th Avenue, east on Missouri Avenue and south on 27th Avenue to Camelback.
The course enables runners to see the campus and outlying community before finishing at the Arena. A quarter-mile Cancer Survivors’ Walk will be held after participants complete their run or walk.
The Office of Communications and Public Affairs is constantly introducing new people to the race and advocating for the children’s cancer cause in the community, through social media, on Arizona news channels and through fundraising websites.
Chris Giles, owner and race director of Raceplace Events, credits GCU’s consistent marketing efforts at major events around the Phoenix area as a reason for the growth. Raceplace sets up mile markers and times GCU’s event. Giles said the University does an efficient job of organizing details such as parking and registration, which pleases runners in event-saturated Arizona. But the University’s devotion to combating childhood cancer and the family-friendly festival atmosphere also are key to the event’s growth.
“In order to organize a race of this size, you need a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of people — and GCU has that,” Giles said. “GCU is a marketing machine and does a great job of promoting and putting up events, and primarily this event.”
A heart for the color gold
Among the ways GCU has increased childhood cancer awareness is the promotion of a petition to send to Washington, D.C., to “paint the White House gold.” As the color of childhood cancer awareness, gold has been made a staple of the cancer run.
All participants in this year’s race will receive an official Run to Fight Children’s Cancer branded tech-fiber T-shirt, commemorative medal and goodie bag after registration is completed. New this year: GCU will also hand out gold shoelaces and capes that read “Cancer Fighting Superhero.” The capes were inspired by a boy who wore a cape to the past two races before recently passing away.
Familiarity has grown with other cause colors, such as the pink for breast cancer promoted by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but children’s cancer gold is relatively unknown. Moreno said he hopes to change that.
“We want people to know (gold is) the color (of childhood cancer),” Moreno said.
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or email@example.com.