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Father Ted’s Fun Run to benefit local students

Molly Madden | Friday, April 23, 2010

Hoping to create opportunities for low-income and underserved prospective students, Notre Dame Upward Bound hopes that many will run this Sunday in order to help local students attend college.

The third annual Father Ted’s Fun Run/Walk will take place Sunday at the Jordan Hall of Science at 3:30 p.m. Participants can either take part in a one-mile walk or a five- or 10- kilometer run.

All proceeds from the event will go to Notre Dame Upward Bound, a program from the University’s Department of Education whose mission is to help local students from low-income backgrounds be the first in their family to attend college.

“Upward Bound provides support and resources to students who have the potential to go to college but are often viewed as the least likely to succeed,” Alyssia Coates, director of Notre Dame Upward Bound, said. “We have a 100 percent success rate at graduating our students from high school and getting them into college.”

Upward Bound is part of the Federal TRIO Programs that were established under President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 60s. Notre Dame President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was a member of the committee that created TRIO and Upward Bound.

“Fr. Ted was instrumental in creating the Upward Bound program and bringing it to campus. That’s why the Fun Run is named after him,” Coates said. “He has always had a great interest in the program and in making sure these students from low-income families have the opportunity to obtain higher education.”

“We wanted to honor Fr. Ted’s dedication to the program by naming this event after him,” Upward Bound administrative assistant Deb Wisler said.

The program enrolls students during their freshman year of high school and continues to support them throughout their high school years by “keeping them on track, providing tutoring from Notre Dame students, academic advising and having enrichment programming,” Wisler said.

The program is completely free of cost for students and then helps to provide them scholarships once they are enrolled in college.

The students, however, struggle to afford books and other items that are not covered by tuition one they’re enrolled in college. The Fun Run was developed three years ago to specifically address this issue. Fifteen students will benefit from its proceeds this year.

“This fundraiser is geared solely to our graduating high school seniors,” Wisler said. “The students are very involved in the event. They go to friends and family to get sponsorships and they will walk or run at the event.”

The students that are members of the program value the opportunity that has been presented to them courtesy of Upward Bound.

“I work with these kids and they are incredibly bright and so motivated — a lot more than a lot of the kids that I went to high school with,” senior Erin Robey, a Fun Run organizer, said. “I think that it’s really good that they’re really trying to get involved in their futures and it’s a pleasure to help them out.”

The Fun Run has grown and developed since it began two years ago and organizers are hoping for a larger turnout this year as more and more community members have become aware of the event.

“Last year we had 200 participants and raised almost $9000 for our students,” Wisler said. “We’re hoping to increase by 100 participants this year.”

The event aims to facilitate the relationship between Notre Dame and the South Bend community, especially since “there is such a disparity between the Notre Dame community and the community that is two minutes away,” Robey said.

Wisler said Upward Bound and the Fun Run help to “serve as a bridge” between Notre Dame and South Bend and Coates believes both communities are trying to achieve the same goal.

“We’re all looking to find out what resources are available so we can work together and be a collaborative community,” Coates said. “We need to unite and make sure the citizens in our community are developing into the citizens that we all want them to be.”