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This weekend, University of Michigan students ran a 5K race through a park in Ann Arbor, raising around $450 for the MEDLIFE Project Fund. Although the MEDLIFE chapter at the University of Michigan is relatively new, student leaders organized their large-scale event by partnering with a 400-person community service fraternity on campus called Alpha Phi Omega (APO). Along with the 5k run, they offered two other events that any registered 5k participant could attend: a tie dye event for tie dying the race shirts and a pasta party the night before the race.
The chapter's president, Melanie Askari, attributes the event's success to the chapter's cooperation with other on-campus and local organizations. "The Michigan MEDLIFE chapter has been trying to create partnerships with as many other student organizations on campus as possible," she says. "When we were planning the 5K with APO, we realized that the date we picked happened to be at the beginning of National Service Week. Just by luck, the theme of National Service Week this year is disease prevention, so MEDLIFE seemed like the perfect non-profit to receive the race money. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness amongst other organizations on campus."
By partnering with APO, Melanie and her group received $80 from the fraternity's funds, which they used to cover the cost of tie dye, signage, advertising and other event expenses. The partnership also expanded their pool of both runners and volunteers. To keep costs low, volunteers were used to direct runners along the correct route and keep track of times as participants crossed the finish line. In addition, MEDLIFE staff members contributed by donating food to the event, spreading the word on campus, and advertising via flyers and Facebook in the weeks leading up to the race. The MEDLIFErs also created a poster explaining the MEDLIFE mission to display at the 5k event.
The University of Michigan group also reached out to the community to solicit prizes from local businesses for the top placers in the race. The chapter has also secured a partnership with Kaplan, which they will use for a future fundraiser. "Aside from the material benefits we receive from local companies," says Melanie, "we are also raising awareness throughout Ann Arbor."
When asked what advice Melanie would give to other MEDLIFE chapters, she reiterates the importance of creating partnerships across a broad array of groups and individuals. "We are all shooting toward similar end goals of providing service, so working together is really the best way to raise the most awareness about the cause and the greatest amount of money. We are trying to bring in as many students from various majors and interests, such as economics, history, international studies, and pre-health, to our chapter. Students tend to join for the same reasons: to provide service and raise awareness. Regardless of our undergraduate majors, professions or interests, at one point or another in our lives we will all need access to quality health care, and that makes MEDLIFE's mission relevant to any college student."