Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity introduces “Running for the Gold” 5K

Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity’s contributions to the Champaign-Urbana community range from assisting at nursing homes to participating in the Books to Prisoners program. But, for the first time, the fraternity will host a 5K to benefit the Special Olympics as well. 

The 5K, titled “Running for the Gold,” will take place Saturday at 8 a.m. The course will begin at 1800 S. Lincoln Ave. in Urbana near the University Arboretum. Individuals can register for the event online, and the cost is $20 to enter. 

Joel Sarmiento, event chair for the fraternity and sophomore in Engineering, said the event is exciting for the fraternity as it begins to take on new projects to support the Special Olympics. Sarmiento said this will be one of the few philanthropic events the fraternity has hosted on campus in recent times.

“Alpha Phi Omega is a national fraternity,” Sarmiento said. “Some people believe that us being a service fraternity means we’re a lot smaller, but we’re a national fraternity and we’re centered around service … Alpha Phi Omega usually performs about 30,000 hours of community service per year.”

Vikram Reddy, former chapter president and junior in Engineering, said the event will differ from the “service-oriented actives” that Alpha Phi Omega usually puts together. Reddy said the project has been a long time in the making.

“This project has theoretically existed for the past four semesters, so I’m really excited,” he said.  

According to Reddy, Alpha Phi Omega has been working on this project over the past year and wanted to pick an event that was focused on its cardinal values of leadership, fellowship and service. Reddy said he thought a 5K would be something a wide variety of students and other community members could participate in. 

Priyal Amin, co-chair of the event and sophomore in LAS, said the event’s proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics.

“We opened it up to the whole chapter, and after discussing, we all felt some sort of passion toward the Special Olympics,” Amin said. “This was something we are passionate about.” 

Proceeds will go directly to the local chapter of the Special Olympics in Champaign, according to Amin. Alpha Phi Omega has donated its time and services to the Special Olympics before, Amin said. But this time the fraternity will be making a monetary donation after the event. 

“This money will help (the Special Olympics) continue to put on their events, pay for food at their events, and prizes and awards — just anything to support that,” Sarmiento said. 

Reddy said the chapter’s ultimate motivation behind putting on this new event is to continue its philanthropic duties in a new manner. 

“We wanted to spark the interest in doing philanthropy for external charities,” Reddy said. “We also want to continue providing service and volunteering on campus as a whole.” 

Samantha can be reached at [email protected]