On Saturday, Sept. 30, University of Toledo students are invited to Race for a Cause in Centennial Mall. The Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the University of Toledo Physician Assistant Program are hosting the 5K Run/Walk to benefit “That Neighborhood Free Health Clinic” and the UT Physician Assistant program.
The SAAAPA is a student branch at the University of Toledo for the national community organization known as the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Every year, the organization hosts a race for That Neighborhood Free Health Clinic to promote awareness on supporting the local clinics in Toledo.
“The clinic is located in Downtown Toledo and it provides a lot of free services to underinsured or uninsured patients. It is around the poorest area in Toledo and in Ohio,” said coordinator Katie Fontaine.
She added the proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the operating costs in the neighborhood clinic.
Associated with That Neighborhood Church, the free clinic is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help people who don’t have access to healthcare, due to transportation, funds or a lack of health insurance, said SAAPA President John Riley.
“I know that there’s a lot of people that aren’t even familiar with these kind of clinics, they don’t have health insurance or a car to get you a doctor,” Riley said. “They can probably go long periods of time without getting medical help. And I think being a PA student, being a medical student, it is just part of the education, it is a part of the experience, to start getting involved with just kind of the larger issues.”
Riley said that people who get into a program like this find it easy to spend all their time studying. However, being a medical professional involves getting out there and getting hands-on experience by helping people.
According to Riley, organizing such an event is definitely a team project. Since he didn’t have any prior experience organizing something like this, he said it was a pretty great learning experience.
SAAPA has been hosting races for the past few years in various locations. This year, the 5K Race/Walk will be hosted at Centennial Mall on Main Campus, to maximize UT community involvement.
“It is going to be a fun event. We have a lot of things planned out and it is going to go towards a really great cause,” Fontaine said. “A lot of students in the program volunteer in the clinic. So we have personal experience with that patient population, and it is really beneficial to them.”
Open to people of all ages, participants will receive shirts, bibs and medals, provided by Dave's Running. Runners can sign up for the race until Sept. 29 with a registration cost of $25. There is a $100 gift card for the overall winner of the race, and each category receives a medal.
“I would say it is worth it just to come out and support the runners,” Riley said. “I think it is important that, even if you don’t participate in it, you come and show your support and see what the student organizations at the University of Toledo can accomplish when they work together and try to do something for the community.”