On Feb. 1 Lakeland’s Rotary International hosted its ninth Twilight 5K run, starting at Lake Hollingsworth. There to help out and hand out water to the runners was Florida Southern College’s Rotaract club and the men’s cross country team.
11 members of the Rotaract Club came down to assist the three other divisions of the Rotary Club in Lakeland.
“We just kind of came down, got together a group of people from the Rotaract Club, handed out water, and helped out as much as we could,” Ned Arick, a junior human performance major and FSC Rotaract Club member, said.
The Rotaract Club has done several small volunteer events around campus.
“We’ve done a ton of little stuff around campus, and we’re kind of a smaller club so we don’t get noticed for all of the stuff that we do,” Dylan Spink, president of the Rotaract Club, said.
Fifteen members of the men’s cross country team also came down to volunteer.
“It’s nothing crazy different from what we’ve done every year,” Coach Ben Martucci, head coach of the men’s cross country team, said.
The race started at 7 p.m once the sun went down. Runners were decked out in gear to enhance their visibility, such as shirts that had been given to them upon registration.
Members of the men’s cross country team were scattered around. Martucci was at the starting line assisting with the stop watches to time runners.
“At a race site, you have different stations,” Martucci said. “You have people all along the track.”
Members of the Rotaract club had a water station set up for runners.
“As the runners came, we just passed cups filled with water and cleaned up the area afterwards,” Arick said.
The Rotaract Club passed out water to every runner: over 700 of them.
“We’re averaging at a little over 700, but this year was a record year. We had 719 registered runners actual runners,” Gregory Shell, chairman of the Rotary’s Twilight 5K run, said.
The high number of runners meant that the Rotaract Club and men’s cross country team had their work cut out for them.
The funds raised from the 5K went to CommonGround Park, which the Rotary Club helped build.
The playground was designed so that all children, disabled or not, could play on the equipment.
“The 5K in Februrary is always for CommonGround,” Xuchitl Coso, advisor to the Rotaract Club and director of career development at FSC, said.
Shell said that the major events are geared towards “families.”
“They come out, have a great experience, a healthy experience, and at the same time we raise money for a good cause,” Shell said.
The run was divided into age groups, resulting in several winners from the race that lasted about an hour. After the race, volunteers manned booths, and runners were able to relax and celebrate.
“It was real cool. They were giving out prizes, they had food…” Spink said.
At the end of the night, a record $14,588 had been raised for CommonGround Park. The event had been entirely run by volunteers, not all of them coming from FSC or affiliated with a Rotary Club.
“Everyone is so helpful around here,” Martucci said.
The event marked another occasion that the Rotaract Club had volunteered at.
“The Rotaract Club started here about three years ago, and every year the club tries to find local activities that they can volunteer at, because it is a service organization,” Coso said.
Spink said that Florida Southern has always encouraged community service, giving students something to “strive for.”
“Community service is this huge deal,” Spink said, “We’re all about giving back to people and, hopefully, at the end of the day, you can go to bed with a smile on your face.”
The Rotary and Rotaract Club’s next major event is Child of the Sun Triathalon and Jazz on April 6.
(Editor’s Note: In the print version of the newspaper, the photo credit was given to Leah Schwarting instead of Xuchitl Coso, who provided the photo of the Rotaract club.)