April Fools’ race benefits Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

In their ongoing effort to help the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Graduate Marketing Association, a group within the University’s MBA program, held their first April Fools’ 5K run/walk this Sunday to raise money for the Kola Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of the underprivileged youth of Pine Ridge.

The proceeds from the race will be used for bringing three students from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the ACES Apprenticeship Program, said James Cantu, MBA student and director of fundraising and special events for Kola Foundation. The money will cover all the expenses for the students.

“We needed something that was going to generate enough money for us to pay for their expenses when they get here,” Cantu said.

Prior to the race, the group raised $2,250, Cantu said. Around 94 people preregistered for the event, and about 20 people registered the day of the race.

The race isn’t the only fundraiser the group holds. They are also donating school supplies for the students, said Trent Pelman, MBA student and chief marketing officer for Kola Foundation. Last year, they held a coat drive.

Ron Lavaire, a teacher at Urbana Middle School, came in first place in the competition. He said he saw the event as opportunity to supplement his marathon training.

“I gained a little speed for marathon training,” Lavaire said.

Coming in second, David Groeber, freshman in Business, said he found out about the event through a friend, who helped organized the race.

“I haven’t raced in a while, so I’d thought it’d be fun,” Groeber said.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in South Dakota, is one of the poorest communities in the country, Pelman said.

Sarah Zigman, MBA student and the director of education for the Kola Foundation, said she ran to support her group’s cause and classmates while having a good time.

“I think it’s important (people) choose to participate to make awareness for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,” Zigman said. “So if we create that awareness for a lot of people in the community that aren’t aware of what’s going on in reservations in the United States … we’ve done our job.”