October 23, 2013

New Cornell Organization, Team U, Seeks to Support Charity Through Runs

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Team U, an intercollegiate organization that promotes global health and poverty charities through participation in endurance activities, will open a chapter at Cornell University next semester.

Joe Benun, a junior at Princeton University, founded Team U two years ago.

“I was thinking about the many hours I had devoted to running and asked myself if that time and energy might have been better spent volunteering at a soup kitchen or other charity. The answer was yes,” Benun told The Times of Trenton in 2012.

Within its first year, Team U enlisted 75 people to race in the Unite Half Marathon on behalf of Team U, which was promoting Shoe4Africa, a charity that is building the largest children’s hospital in Kenya, according to The Times.

Team U has since opened a chapter at Yale University. Team U: Cornell chapter’s founding members include President Michael Rothbaum ’15, Jon Grecco ’15, marathon chair, Ari Bernstein ’16, publicity chair and Reed Newman ’16, campus events chair. Teresa Xu ’15, also worked on social media for Team U’s Cornell chapter, Bernstein said.

As its first fundraising activity, Team U at Cornell will be running in the Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon this spring, according to Bernstein.

He added that “hopefully the team will train together” in the lead-up to the half-marathon.

Bernstein also said the chapter plans to attract people to the team by catering to different student populations of Cornell.

“We know there’s a huge population of Cornell interested in global health and another population that — whether or not if they’re interested in global health — are interested in a healthier lifestyle,” Bernstein said.

It has not yet been decided which charity the Cornell chapter will donate to next semester with benefits from the half-marathon, but Bernstein said the charity will most likely be very similar to Shoe4Africa.

“You run in this marathon, and it spreads awareness of the charity, and you can get your family and friends or the Cornell community to donate on behalf of you running in the marathon,” Bernstein said. “You tell people why you’re running for your specific charity.”

Bernstein said he hopes that, in the coming years, Team U will become a well-known organization at Cornell. He said the organization might work toward expanding its campus presence by modelling itself on the Princeton chapter and conducting at least one half-marathon each semester.

“Our goal is to become as significant a presence as Team U has been on the Princeton campus; we want a continuous group of people to be involved,” he said. Bernstein said he thinks Team U could have a positive impact on students’ health and raise money for charity.

“My personal favorite aspect of Team U is that it helps students make a positive change in their own lives, on their college campuses and in the global community,” Bernstein said.