Race to the Finish: Running a Mile for the Akron Children’s Hospital

Emilie Eustace

Staff Writer

 

The Carl Munson Track at the College of Wooster was thrilled to welcome back the fourth annual Monday Night Mile fundraising event for the Akron Children’s Hospital earlier this week. This event took place on Sept. 13 and proved to be a success yet again. This event is founded by one of the college’s own professors, Dr. Jeff Roche. On top of teaching history here at the College, Dr. Roche has found a passion in raising both money and awareness for children’s hospitals all around the world. In 2018, he decided to create an event of his own with the help of Brian Polen, the former director of the Akron Marathon and owner of Vertical Runner in downtown Wooster. Jeff Roche says, “That first race was put together in only a few days and we raised $2,000. We knew that we could do better and continue to grow.” The event gives back to the Akron Children’s Hospital, the institution that saved his son’s life many years ago. Christopher, Dr. Roche’s son, was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer in 2007 that spread to his brain only a year later. Although this was rarely seen in patients, the new treatments created by the pediatric oncologists and doctors from around the world saved Christopher’s life and allowed the Roche family to gain insight on how the Akron’s Children Hospital cares for families, with no one left to fight alone.

The Monday Night Mile was made for every individual, from marathon runners to those who have not ran the mile since their seventh grade P.E. class. This year, the event has been part of a four-week series of three virtual races, concluding with the in-person event on Monday the 13th. Roche says, “There are people that participate in this event from all around the United States. There are at least 12 states represented in the Monday Night Mile, including Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, Kentucky, and more. With this, we have hosted over 180 participants this year within the virtual and in-person format.” There are various degrees of expertise shown throughout the participants, with different levels of races and events offered to fit the needs of all. There were nine events held this year, including a kid’s singular lap race, a kid’s mile, the recreational mile, the open and master’s division, and various challenging relay races. On top of an awards ceremony with custom t-shirts and medals, runners and supporters finished out the night with music from DJ R3TRO and a much-needed post-race afterparty at JAFB Brewery.

At the end of the night, Roche was proud to announce that the event met its fundraising goal. He said, “This year we met our highest goal yet. People enter this race, now as a nonprofit organization, knowing that their money will go to a good cause. We raised over $10,000 which allows us to make a large donation and have money left over to begin working on the race for next year.” Although the physical race is over for the year, the work of the doctors and nurses at Akron’s Children Hospital never ends. Roche is more than ready to begin planning the fifth Monday Night Mile with an even higher fundraising goal set for next year.