Aaron Krish firstname.lastname@example.org
Based in a state that often focuses on drinking as part of its social atmosphere, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point students gathered together on campus for a relay run that rose funds for alcohol awareness.
The 33rd annual Steiner Hall Alcohol Awareness Fund Run, also known as SHAAFR, helped raise $1,300 and awareness about alcohol and its effects. Collectively, students ran 120 miles around the Stevens Point area Friday, April 12 to Saturday, April 13.
“The fact that SHAAFR is in its 33rd year and is a tradition at a school that already doesn’t have many traditions shows how special this event is to the UWSP campus,” said Steiner Hall Director, Tim Schmidt.
Originally organized in 1981 by former athletic director and Steiner Hall Director Frank O’Brien, SHAAFR took its first strides from the steps of the capital building in Madison and continued to run in relay fashion to Stevens Point.
Today, due to the overall feasibility and cost, the 120-mile relay run is held solely in the surrounding area. This was Schmidt’s sixth year organizing the event and he believes that each year the run is even more special and beneficial to the community and campus.
“I think that this is such a positive experience in a time where there is so much negativity in the world,” Schmidt said. “The community doesn’t hesitate to donate if they know the money is going to a good cause.”
Each year the planning committee seeks donations and decides where all the money. For this year’s run, all proceeds were donated to the Portage County Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention. In the past, money has been donated to the Safe Ride Program, the Tavern League, Stevens Point Area Senior High and MORP, an organization which offers an alcohol-free alternative post-prom in Portage County.
The organization and donations are only part of making SHAAFR a success. Without the runners and volunteers, the event would never be able to get its feet off the ground.
“The atmosphere within Steiner between running and just hanging out is just pure excitement for both the runners and volunteers,” Schmidt said.
Each volunteer and runner signed the commitment that they would encourage and support a cause that has advocated for alcohol awareness for the past 33 years, as well as connect with one another to work as a team. The commitment was then put inside the baton that the runners passed off every two miles.
“This was my third year running in SHAAFR. I love running, and I love volunteering in the community, so that fact that running could do that was just a win-win situation for me,” runner Chelsey Baeb said.
A representative of the Portage County Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Prevention, as well as the Portage County Sheriff, shared their gratitude and experience in advocating awareness. They challenged runners and volunteers to not give up and work together throughout the night.
“Alcohol awareness is something I think everyone, especially in a college town, should be aware of,” runner Hannah Morgan said. “It’s a really good thing to be a part of to get the word out there and make sure people are being smart about it.”
Teamwork and hard work were key to such an extensive run. Each pair of runners was expected to run six to eight miles through the night, and the physical and mental toll that it puts on someone’s body is exhausting, especially for those who were not runners or had a difficult time running.
“The last leg of each of our two miles, my partner and I would grab and run with the baton together. I really think that it’s important to finish strong and finish together,” Baeb said. “It sounds cliché, but participating in something like SHAAFR really does reflect the importance of teamwork, and if I’m not finishing with my partner, then I’m not working as a team.”
Overall, the night was filled with responses of excitement and exhaustion. Participants met the last two runners and lined the sidewalk to cheer the runners on their final stretch to Steiner Hall. Everyone finished.
“The runners are proud to run for a cause, and the volunteers are happy to help, giving their time for the same cause,” Schmidt said. “I was impressed with this year’s dedication and participation, and we look forward to doing it all over again next spring.”