More than 550 participants waited anxiously in Warner Memorial Park on Saturday morning for the signal to embark on one of the most colorful journeys K-State has to offer.
The chapters of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity paired up to create the “Powercat Paint Run,” a philanthropy 5k race to raise funds and awareness for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. ADPi chapters all across the country have contributed to RMHC, the organization’s philanthropy, since 1979, raising over $5 million nationally for families in need.
ADPi’s philanthropy chair, Kelsey Ritz, sophomore in social work, said that they began planning the Powercat Paint Run early last September in order to properly address the logistic needs of the event. The goal, she said, was to create an exciting new event to not only create awareness, but a sense of vitality surrounding the cause.
“Our past philanthropies have been fantastic, but we wanted something to really bring up the energy for Ronald McDonald House Charities,” Ritz said. “We knew that past philanthropy 5ks for other fraternities and sororities had been so successful, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we do that, but add a twist?'”
The twist was the addition of multi-colored powder paint stations placed at each mile marker throughout the terrain course. Participants were each given a white T-shirt upon registration, which proceeded to be plastered by volunteers throwing purple, yellow and green pigments at the runners as they passed by.
Ritz added that the overwhelming participation of the K-State population, as well as the Manhattan community, was a pleasant surprise and an unexpected challenge.
“In the future, we hope to have the same level of support,” she said. “We hope we can grow with it through the city of Manhattan to keep it a stable and developing philanthropy.”
Nathan Laudan, sophomore in food science, said that he first heard about the event on campus. As a former competitor in the Color Run in Kansas City, Mo., the philanthropy immediately caught his attention, and he managed to round up a group of fraternity brothers to share in the fun.
“I think it’s a really neat idea,” Laudan said. “A lot of organizations do 5ks, but I think the idea of having a more fun environment where we get to throw paint on each other attracts more people, so it definitely helps with the overall philanthropy in being able to give back.”
Through the dedication and interest of participants like Laudan, the philanthropy was able to donate funds to the RMHC to assist families with children who are chronically ill or are receiving treatment for a variety of health issues. Susan Smythe, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Wichita and K-State ADPi alum, said that the funds raised will directly impact those families who utilize RMHC.
“Ronald McDonald House Charities provides for and supports families who are going through medical crises,” Smythe said. “About 60 percent of the families we help qualify for KanCare, so these funds will directly go to support those families in need.”
In addition to providing room and board for these families, RMHC also serves to provide emotional support as well.
“If you went to a hotel room, and you open the door, it’s just a dark room, and you’re still facing your problems,” Smythe said. “When you walk into a Ronald McDonald House, the first thing someone says is, ‘Welcome! We’re here to help you in any way we can.’ That in itself is such a relief.”
Smythe also wished to thank those who were dedicating their time and resources to the charity through the Powercat Paint Run and hoped that participants would understand what an impact they were making on the organization.
“What people are doing today out of the kindness of their heart directly helps people,” she said. “This is just one day, but everyone here is learning what giving is, and hopefully they’ll do it throughout their life. It is people helping people that is so important in this world.”