The 3rd Annual Thankful 5K, put on by the Alpha Phi sorority at the University of Virginia, took place on Saturday, November 14th at 10AM.
The skies were clear and the air was cool as members of the sorority, students, friends, family, and community members gathered on Nameless Field. Participants donned white t-shirts with the words “Thankful” on the front. Runners also wore race bibs that said “I’m thankful for,” and wrote on the bib to complete the sentence.
“The Thankful 5K invites members of Alpha Phi, the UVA community, and the greater Charlottesville area to come out and run in honor of something they are thankful for,” says fourth-year and member of Alpha Phi, Laura McCarthy.
The race began at 10:08AM, and runners followed a course that began at Nameless Field, went down McCormick Road, wove through neighborhoods on Alderman Road, and came back around to finish at Newcomb Patio.
At every turn along the course, and at the finish, runners were cheered on by posters and encouraging words. The winners of the race, Emmett Saulnier for the men and Eve Marenghi for the women, received gift cards as prizes.
“I enjoyed the good vibes, funny and encouraging posters, and the post-race runner’s high,” says second-year and runner Gabby Levet. “I’m thankful today for my roommates because they are my UVA family.”
As more people finished the race, a larger crowd gathered. Attendees talked, laughed, and celebrated the end of the race.
The idea for the Thankful 5K came a few years ago. The race was started in memory of Casey Schulman and Shelley Goldsmith, students at the University of Virginia and sisters of Alpha Phi who would have graduated in ’12 and ’16, respectively. The name for the race comes directly from Schulman.
“Casey was someone who truly embodied a positive and optimistic viewpoint on life,” says Adelle Clinton, fourth-year student and member of Alpha Phi. “During her first semester her fourth year, she went on a Semester at Sea trip, and when asked to describe how she felt about the trip, she said the word ‘thankful.’”
Friends describe Goldsmith as intelligent, driven, and caring. When Goldsmith passed away less than a year later, it seemed only fitting to the chapter to dedicate the race to her as well. Goldsmith was a Jefferson Scholar, and would have been in her fourth year at UVA this year.
Clinton continues, “Our chapter held on to the idea of being thankful to help us remember our sisters. We love sharing that sentiment with the greater community.”
This year, 765 people registered to run the race. Registration, along with community support and in-kind donations, went towards three philanthropies. The Alpha Phi Foundation, which is Alpha Phi’s national philanthropy, raises awareness for heart disease.
The other two foundations supported through the Thankful 5K are the Casey Schulman Foundation, which is a scholarship fund for students in need, and the Shelley Goldsmith Memorial Scholarship.
“I am endlessly thankful for the people who shared their support, and participated in a day filled with love. The world thrives on days like that,” says second-year Kat Harrison.
It was a day dedicated to the memory of Schulman and Goldsmith, as well as to the everyday things that people hold dear.
“It really is just such an amazing feeling,” says third-year and sorority member Alexis South. “The name of the race puts it all together, myself and everyone there were just so thankful, thankful for that day and for each other.”
To see more pictures from the Thankful 5K, you can view the Facebook event here. You can learn more about the Alpha Phi Foundation, the Casey Schulman Foundation, and the Shelley Goldsmith Memorial Scholarship by clicking the links provided.