SOU advocates organize benefit run

Runners sweat, it goes without saying. But Saturday morning, Southern Oregon runners were sweating for a cause. The 30-plus participants of the inaugural 5 kilometer Full Belly Run raced to feed local homeless and hungry.

The recently formed Southern Oregon University student-run advocacy group Southern Oregon Collation of Leaders devised the event.

"We were just looking for a way to give back to the community in a different way than something like a car wash ..." said Sam Baldwin, one of the founders of the SOCL.

The event, which was also sponsored by SOU and the student programing board, donated all proceeds to the Southern Oregon Access Center. Garnering more than $300, the net bulk will result in the purchase of more than 1,800 pounds of food for local people in need of a meal.

At 7:30 a.m., participants started to file in to register and pay $15 to participate in a race where the finish line meant feeding hungry local folks.

The event drew diverse participants sought by the organizers. From race winner, Jacob Walsh &

he completed the trek in 18 minutes &

to walking participants who strolled past the finish line in 53 minutes, service, not athletic skill was the one unifying thread.

Each participant received a T-shirt to commemorate the experience. Following the race, a raffle was held, offering gifts from area sponsors. All who entered won a raffle prize for their contribution.

SOCL is the brainchild of SOU students Baldwin, Megan Amort and Tyler Hauptman. Previously, the group sponsored a public viewing of the documentary, "An Awful Truth."

The student run group seeks to merge social ideals with involvement between campus and local communities.

"We thought there was a need to get involved in the community more," Baldwin said. "There wasn't really an outlet for that on campus. We hope to make this run an annual thing."

The issue of local hunger weighs on these student leaders, and they are glad to see such community responsiveness in kind.

"We had a great turnout," said Baldwin. "People came out in support, and it was great to see that support from both the on campus community and the Ashland community. I think that hunger is becoming a wider known issue in Jackson county, and that helped a lot."

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