Local track meet organized by CESJDS students raises over $1,000 for charity

Eva Bard, Guest Writer

Side by side, students, families, alumni and olympic-caliber refugee runners raced around the track not in competition, but as one unified community.

Despite the rain and the harsh wind, over 70 people came together this past Sunday for the 6th annual Charity Track Meet at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy. The meet raised money for the Torture Abolition Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) and invited professional African runners and their families who are seeking asylum in the United States to participate.

“[This meet] really shows that sense of community and how we can all have the passion and love of running and can come together to support a good cause to help people that are here in this country and need our help and support,” assistant track team coach and science teacher Kelly Grosskurth said.

The meet offered runners the chance to run the 100m, 400m, 800m and 1600m. Other than running, the meet had music, prizes such as free shoes from RoadRunners and a Siena’s gift card, refreshments and face paint included in an admission fee of $20.

According to freshman Julia Peppe, because the track team already had a hard workout that morning, she raced to have fun and did not put too much effort into the race. However, she wanted to score first in her age group in the 1600m, and achieved her goal with a time of 7:50.

“Other meets are very high stress; people are so focused on doing well and their time,” Peppe said. “Compared to an actual race, this race was a lot more fun and a lot more chill.”

Ethiopian female 400m record holder Genet Dobamo, fled persecution during her travels to the U.S. for a track meet. She is a recurring face among the JDS track community and placed first in the 400m race with a time of 67 seconds.

Junior Rebecca Weiss, along with her eighth-grade brother Benjamin Weiss organized this charity track meet. In total, they raised $1,160 for TASSC, which helps survivors of torture rebuild their lives with legal, medical, housing, food and employment assistance.

Rebecca said that helping refugees who have survived torture is important to her, especially because her grandfather survived the Holocaust. She said that the running community is important for the refugees but that they often don’t have the money they need for running equipment.

“We’re raising money for them which has very real effects on the survivors,” Rebecca said. “But also it’s just a very happy day for the family to participate and be part of a community.”