Just as most of his friends were stumbling out of bed and fixing a bowl of Lucky Charms, 11-year-old Andrew Gerwitz crossed the finish line of the Julia Rusinek Memorial Run Sunday.
Gerwitz, one of the youngest of the 138 runners, didn’t even seem winded after running four miles in 30 minutes.
“It makes me feel good afterwards,” Gerwitz said.
Others, however, were less drawn to the race by running than by the cause it benefits. Participants ran yesterday on this clear, mild morning for the Julia Rusinek Memorial Fund, founded in the memory of Julia Rusinek, a Yale student who died of an undetected heart condition as a rising senior in July 1999.
Because Rusinek had a strong interest in advocating the rights of underprivileged children, her mother Rosa started the fund to aid organizations that help children.
“Our mission is not only to support programs that help disadvantaged kids monetarily, but also to work very closely with them,” Rosa Rusinek said.
The fund’s recent projects have included providing a music center, theater trips and books to the Harriet Tubman Center in New York City. Also, it has funded and recruited tutors for the Redland Center, which serves children in Harlem.
Closer to home, the fund helps support the activites of Leadership Education Athletics in Partnership. Known as “LEAP,” this organization specifically serves New Haven children.
The fund’s rapid success in just two years attracted a diverse field of runners. Students, professors and a couple of fathers with strollers ran up College Street toward Science Hill, but in the end the winner was Andrew Quigg ’01, with a time of 22:40.
While Quigg was on the Yale cross-country team until injury forced him to quit, it was service, not athletics, that brought him to the event.
“I came out to volunteer this morning,” Quigg said. The Jonathan Edwards College Council “was helping and our master was running, so it was fun.”
The run will provide funds to drive endeavors for next year. The organization plans to continue its partnership with LEAP, and in perhaps its largest upcoming project, the fund will donate the money to build a children’s library in New York’s Metropolitan Hospital.