Despite the rainy, cold weather, hundreds gathered outside the Michigan State University auditorium bright and early on Saturday, March 25.
East Lansing residents, students, family and MSU faculty came out to support Tower Guard and the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) on MSU’s campus.
Tower Guard is an organization for sophomore students, dedicated to serving the RCPD through collaboration scribing for exams, creating accessible textbooks, holding tutoring and working towards promoting accessibility, inclusivity and service.
Eric Swanson heard about the race through his daughter Alexa Swanson, who is a member of Tower Guard.
“When she got into Tower Guard was when I first heard about the 5K, I wasn’t much of a runner, so I set a goal then that I was going to train to run it,” Swanson said. “I love the course. I mean, anytime you get to go along the Red Cedar and see the campus, it’s incredible. But what I like the most is that it’s a fundraiser for the RCPD.”
Swanson felt appreciative of the 5K’s purpose as he connected to it on a personal level.
“My dad had multiple sclerosis. He was in a wheelchair, and I realized that the world wasn’t necessarily made for people who have certain types of disabilities. The more that we can do to help make things more inclusive, we can get everybody to be their whole self,” Swanson said. “The fact that my daughter is volunteering her time and doing work to do that in addition to school makes me a pretty proud father.”
As RCPD’s largest fundraiser, $15,000-$23,000 are raised each year for endowment programming that provides assistive technology, audiovisual educational materials, leadership development, and career readiness opportunities.
Marissa Burk, a master’s accounting student at MSU, uses the RCPD’s resources.
“I am an RCPD student, so I work a lot on campus to raise awareness for students with food allergies. As somebody who has disabilities and a really severe food allergy—which some people don’t consider a disability, but it is—I am really happy to support this cause for students who use these resources,” Burk said.
Every dollar from registration fees goes straight to RCPD-endowed programming.
Tower Guard member Grace Walker volunteered on the traffic and run course committee.
“I am so excited because this means more accessibility. I walk around and see where accessibility could be more readily available and I think it’s so awesome that there’s now going to be more money towards creating that accessibility,” Walker said.
Jennifer Buda and Matt Gale have been participating in the event for 10 years since Buda was a student at MSU. Buda and Gale found a way to still do the race at home even through the pandemic.
“We like to think this is the race that starts off our running season. We like that the money goes to MSU’s RCPD specifically for that cause it is important to us,” Buda said. “I liked the course this year, obviously the weather is no one’s fault so that’s probably the only downside to the race this year, but otherwise it was good.”
Beaumont Tower tours were hosted before and after the 5K for participants to view.
“The course is pretty similar, I think, to past years. I really liked last year because we went into the tower, and we got to play the carillon,” Gale said.
The Tower Guard class of 2000 founded the event to raise funds for the RCPD, which serves nearly 3,000 students.
Jasmyn Miller, a freshman advertising student at MSU used the 5K as a way to get back into running.
“I enjoyed it. I have been wanting to get back into running for a while, and this gave me a chance to do that. Being surrounded by so many supportive people with the same mindset was really fun,” Miller said.
Tower Guard member Hannah Hua also volunteered on the traffic and run course committee.
“I directed the runners in the right direction and made sure the cars yield for the runners. The race is for a great cause and it’s very accessible. If you’re not a runner you always have the opportunity to walk or roll,” Hua said.
Hua enjoyed seeing the community come together with 339 participants taking part in the race.
“Seeing all the community members come together to work towards raising money for the RCPD and build accessibility on campus stood out to me,” Hua said.
Rick Garcia and his son Lucas Garcia participated in the 5K for the first time this year.
“It was a little chilly. I’m surprised how many people showed up, but it was really well organized and nice to see everybody cheering everyone on,” Garcia said.