A crowd of racers throw color packets into the air in celebration after finishing the 5K race on Saturday. Proceeds from the event benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley.
Photos by Dalton Runberg / The Collegian
Hundreds of Fresno State students participated in Saturday’s rainbow-spattered race Color Me Rad, either running the 5K course or volunteering their time. Part of the proceeds from the sold-out event will go toward benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley.
More than 9,000 valley runners flocked to Woodward Park in their bright whites before being pelted and sprayed with multicolored cornstarch at various points along the 3.1-mile course.
This is one race where finishing first isn’t on the mind of most runners.
Katlyn Haynes, a senior studying speech pathology, said that she didn’t care which place she finished in.
“It’s just a fun thing to do, and it’s for a good cause,” Haynes said.
Even still, Haynes said that the race went by quickly because she was enjoying it so much.
“It was pretty much the shortest 5K I’ve ever run in my life, just because it’s so much fun,” she said.
In addition to just running for fun, Haynes said she wanted to support the Ronald McDonald House because she volunteers there along with friends Rio Haack and Lisa Beach, who also participated in the race.
“The Ronald McDonald House means a lot to us,” Beach said. “So we do as much as we can to help them out.”
Haack, a kinesiology major, heard about Color Me Rad in previous years from her hometown in Minnesota, but missed out on the registration because it was sold out. When she came to Fresno State to be on the equestrian team, she made sure to jump on the chance when the race came to town.
Music majors Jacob Ward and Joel Mariano said that the crowd and atmosphere helped push them along in the race.
“With all the people, I think it was the energy that got me really pumped up,” Mariano said.
“I didn’t feel like I ran three miles,” said Ward, representing the Sexy Runners Society team.
“I didn’t run three miles – I danced three miles,” Mariano added. “I just wanted to enjoy it as much as possible, so I went as slow as possible to savor the moment.”
Aaron Burdick, a senior studying vocal performance, said, “We knew we weren’t going to finish first. We just wanted to have fun while we were doing it.”
Fresno was one of 20 other cities through the U.S. and Canada to host Color Me Rad this year, and the only one in California to do so. The event drew runners and volunteers from as far away as San Jose, Sacramento and Los Angeles.
Many Fresno State students also volunteered as part of the “color bomb squad,” which threw the pigment packets from each kilometer marker during the race. Members from the Sigma Chi fraternity claimed the spot right before the finish line to complete the runners’ race in a cloud of blue smoke.
Kevin Gordy, a member of the Circle K International community service club on campus, volunteered as a color thrower in the 9 a.m. wave of Color Me Rad, along with other members of the club.
Gordy said he wanted to volunteer as soon as he heard about the event because of the great cause.
“It’s going to the Ronald McDonald House, which I think is amazing,” Gordy said. Fresno is just one of the stops along the Color Me Rad tour that supports this charity, he added, because it is such a worthy cause.
Hannah Johnson, marketing manager for the Ronald McDonald House, said that the charity gets 15 percent of registration fees from entrants who used a special promotional code when signing up. Other racers offered to donate via email or Facebook, Johnson said.
“Additionally, we get $75 per volunteer that we sign up, so we’re really excited about that,” Johnson said. “We get new people that we would never have had the connection with.”
Johnson had originally registered as a runner, but when she noticed that the race did not have a charity partner yet for this location, she suggested the Ronald McDonald House and made it happen.
Almost 300 people volunteered for Color Me Rad, many of whom were Fresno State students. Johnson contacted the school’s community service department, which sent out the word throughout campus and received a surprising response.
“We didn’t really do any inviting. People found the event online and just wanted to volunteer,” Johnson said. “We definitely didn’t seek volunteers out. They were just so excited to be involved.”
Gerald Arneson, a Fresno State student and event volunteer, said that volunteers played a big part in the success of Color Me Rad. They helped out from manning booths to handing out water, as well as the all-important color stations.
“If we didn’t have volunteers, this event wouldn’t have happened,” Arneson said.
Johnson said the generous response from the public was not very surprising.
“I think in general our community does attach to great causes and likes to get involved in fun events like this,” she said. “But it’s just nice to see such a large number of people.”
The donation from the partnership with Color Me Rad is timely because the Ronald McDonald House is planning to expand its day service, Johnson said. The organization has to turn away between 30 to 100 families every month because the house is not large enough.
“The money raised from this race is going to go directly to expanding into our day service,” Johnson said. “So we’ll be able to help more families because we raised this money today.”