Nate’s Run for Smiles, a five-kilometer race and mile-long children’s run held to raise money for charity, was hosted Sunday in memory of Nathaniel Rand ’12, a student who died after drowning in Fall Creek Gorge last summer.
The event supported the Nathaniel L. Rand Fund of Child Life Program of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. Money from the fund will be used to support child patients by offering therapy through playing in the hospital, helping prepare them for medical procedures and providing their families with counseling.
The event was planned by Alpha Phi Omega — a service fraternity of which Rand was an active member — to commemorate Rand’s life.
“We all loved Nate. It is really nice that we are doing an event in his honor,” said Julia DiPiazza ’14, vice president of service for APO.
Sabrina Moroz ’13, a member of APO, said the fraternity decided to focus on helping children through the event after recalling its memories of Rand.
“At the beginning of the semester, the entire service team had a meeting. We thought about what reminded us of Nate,” she said. “The first thing we thought about was dancing, but we didn’t know where to go with that, so next we thought about smiling and kids. He loved kids.”
Rand died in July while he and his friends were swimming in Fall Creek Gorge. He was trapped underneath the water near Ithaca Falls and found hours later by the New York State Police dive team.
Rand’s death occurred three hours after the body of Stanislaw Jaworski, 26, a visiting graduate student from Poland, was recovered farther upstream in an unrelated incident.
In a statement to APO, Jacob Rand, Nate’s father, thanked the fraternity for organizing the event, adding that “Nate loved the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and wanted to devote his career to helping others — especially children.”
Josh Phillips ’14, who was in Rand’s APO pledge class, added that Rand was the type of guy who, when you saw him, “would immediately burst into a smile.”
After their initial inspiration, Moroz said plans for the event “just kind of came together.”
DiPiazza also said that the fraternity chose the children’s hospital as its beneficiary because of Rand’s passion for children, adding that Rand used to volunteer at the hospital.
Rand’s service project for APO “was all about kids; he would have loved the moon bounce [at the event],” said Perri Cohn ’12, a member of APO.
Cohn said the turnout at the run was “spectacular.”
“There have been three large pledge classes and the brotherhood has grown a lot [in the past year]. [The new members of APO] haven’t met him, and the fact that they are still so supportive is great,” Cohn said.
According to DiPiazza, the event drew more than 70 participants. Cohn said that most of the runners were students, and many of them members of APO.
Allie Lin ’14, a runner and member of APO, recruited her friend to the event.
The five-kilometer race began at 10 a.m. Afterward, children participated in a one-mile run and enjoyed activities and food.
“We do only a couple big events a year,” Cohn said. “This [was] the most successful.”
Moroz said the event was especially successful considering how little time APO had to plan for it.
“It was stressful at times. Usually you take a year to plan these events; we did it in a semester,” she said. “I think it came together pretty well.”
The organizers said they hoped that the event would continue to be held annually in honor of Rand.
“This is the ‘first annual’ because we would like it to happen for years,” DiPiazzi said.
Jacob Rand thanked the event’s participants for “remembering our son and brother in such a meaningful way.”