Nearly 50 students clad in superhero costumes crowded the Georgetown C&O Canal towpath Saturday morning, where they ran a 5K in support of a nonprofit that aims to empower women in Uganda.
While some runners opted for simple Wonder Woman and Spiderman T-shirts, others went all-out with their outfits, like one runner who donned a Superman shirt, red spandex, bright blue tights and even socks adorned with a mini cape for each calf.
“We thought we’d add the superhero theme,” said Paige Cooper, the president of GW’s chapter of the national organization GlobeMed, which holds the annual event. “Like, let’s save the world.”
Since its founding in 2007 as one of the first chapters in the country, GlobeMed GW raised money to reconstruct a maternal health care clinic that had been destroyed during the Rwandan genocide.
But this year, chapter members have taken on a new project for the first time, partnering with Set Her Free to aid Ugandan women who are victims of human trafficking. The nonprofit has also started projects like a sanitary pad distribution program and raised money to build a shelter for women in Kampala, where they can receive vocational training, medical care and counseling.
Saturday marked the first time GlobeMed’s annual race has supported Set Her Free, which officially teamed up with the student organization in February.
Cooper, a junior, said she was drawn to GlobeMed because it focuses on forming relationships with the people it helps, organizing summer trips for students to visit their nonprofit partner.
“There’s other organizations where you go somewhere for a week, and then you leave, and you never really get to follow up with the people that you’re helping,” Cooper said. “As a student in this organization, I think you’re in a position and in an experience you don’t really get anywhere else.”
Cooper went on the group’s first trip to Uganda in June. She met with the leaders of Set Her Free and began planning a program to distribute sanitary pads to female students in the area, who often missed school because they were menstruating and would eventually drop out when they had too many absences.
Chapter members new and old flooded the sidewalk Saturday to support the fundraiser, like Samantha Danko, an alumna who flew from New York to run in the race. Danko is now part of the GlobeMed alumni network in New York, where she attends events like happy hours and film screenings with other former members.
“It was nice to be able to come back and reconnect with the organization a little bit and see some familiar faces – to keep connecting, whether it’s getting happy hour or running, same thing,” Danko said, laughing.
Senior Case Keltner, a new member of the organization who also ran in the race, joined GlobeMed for the same reason as Danko: to be part of an organization with aspirations that cross borders, and join students that go the extra mile (or thousand) to help.
“There’s a really close connection and linkage between GlobeMed at G-dub, and then Set Her Free,” Keltner said. “It’s a good chance to do service-oriented work that’s focused around global health.”
After the race, student runners grabbed their event T-shirts and set out for home, giving each other high-fives and taking group photos. After running through Georgetown, they said they felt even more energized.
“There’s not really many other opportunities for other students to take the initiative,” Cooper said. “We’re not doing paper-filing or anything, we’re actually running this, which is challenging. It definitely has its limits, but I think it’s an exciting thing.”