The morning was bright and crisp Saturday for the fourth annual Barbara Sullivan Race for Women’s Health 5k Race. The event, which has been sponsored by Elon University School of Law‘s Women’s Law Association since the organization was formed, was held at Northeast Park in Gibsonville and brought out 130 participants — the largest number of attendees since the race began in 2009.
“We begin by choosing a health issue that impacts women in our community, and then we choose a corresponding nonprofit organization to sponsor,” said Courtney Roller, the philanthropy chairperson of the organization.
This year, WLA partnered with Alzheimer’s North Carolina to raise money and awareness. Roller said it was important to choose a charity that had a state-wide impact, rather than a national impact, as WLA focuses its philanthropy on community charity.
The race is named for Barbara Sullivan, the mother of an Elon Law graduate who passed away in November 2009 from a brain tumor. Her daughter, Elon Law alumna Ann Sullivan, assisted in starting the annual 5K race and naming the race in honor of her mother was a way to commemorate her, according to Danielle Kennedy, WLA president.
Since then, WLA has attempted to increase awareness and raise more money each year for the sponsored charity.
“In the past, the races have been very successful in raising thousands of dollars for charities that are benefiting women’s health,” said Kennedy. “Last year alone, our small race raised over $1,500 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
As the years progress, WLA hopes to meet higher fundraiser goals for the 5K.
“We strive to involve more people, raise more money and generate more awareness about the particular nonprofit we are sponsoring,” Roller said. “This year, for the first time, we reached out to local businesses and requested donations. The response was overwhelming (and) many local business owners went above and beyond our requests.”
But the annual 5K race is just one example of what WLA does as an organization.
“In addition to our race, we have other programs that strive to help the community,” Kennedy said. “For example, this year, we raised money through our annual bake sale and collected goods for Family Service of the Piedmont.”
The race participants were not just limited to Elon Law School students.
“We had people from all walks of life who came out,” Roller said. “We had avid marathon runners, Guilford County judges, a few Elon undergraduates, law school professors, local business owners, many law school students and several dogs registered to participate.”
The race awarded winners in several categories, including male, female, team and dog runners. Second year law student Clayton Purcell won first in the male runner category, Elon Law Charter Class alumna Alix Hazel won first for female runners, Team Swift Justice took the first prize for team runners and German shorthaired pointer Molly was the first place winner for dogs.
Most of the participants said they decided to run the race not only because they were avid runners, but because supporting the cause and the Elon Law WLA was important to them. Many were also returning participants in the 5K.
“I graduated from Elon Law in 2009,” said Steven Lucente, Molly’s owner and one of the race participants. “(My wife Sarah and I) started to do the race to support our friends and the cause. We run this race every year.”
According to WLA members, this year’s 5K race was a success.
“I think everybody really enjoyed it this year,” Roller said. “Each year, it’s been growing, so we’re really excited about that.”