On Saturday, May 18, more than 1,300 walkers, strollers, joggers and runners will take to the streets of Bothell for the 14th Annual UW Bothell Husky 5k. For participants, it’s a friendly race to the finish line.
For beneficiaries of the event, it’s a critical step to finishing their UW Bothell degree.
Ahead of goal
Flashback to the start of the race, in 2006. Jeremy Reichelt (Business ’04), a member of the UW Bothell Alumni Council, proposed that the group raise funds for student scholarships. After considering a variety of fundraising activities, the council settled on creating a 5k event, which was the first of its kind in the Bothell area.
Although the council was just two years old, it set a goal of raising $25,000 within five years. True to the alumni spirit — loyal, ambitious and determined — the goal was met in just four.
In its infancy, the race was produced in conjunction with a project management class taught by council member Kim O’Neill (MBA ’06). Since 2011, the council has operated the increasingly popular event on its own.
“The first year, we were grateful to have about 200 participants,” said Mary Howisey (IAS ’02), the coucil’s fundraising events chair who has attended every year. “It’s been exciting to watch the numbers grow over the years and now, to see more than six times that at the start line … it’s just mind-boggling to think we did that.”
A labor of love
“We” is a dedicated group of Alumni Council officers and volunteers who work on the event much of the year. From getting sponsors and prize donations to marketing and race day logistics, it is a labor of love for all involved.
“I know I speak for others when I say that we had a great experience at UW Bothell,” said Howisey. “We didn’t really want to leave, so we haven’t.”
She adds that by extension, members of the council want to share their UW Bothell experience with the larger community. “We want to show our neighbors there are good things happening here, and we have fun,” she said. “Join us!”
In addition to an increase in participants, the event has grown in scope. Along with the usual post-race snacks and beverages, there is a silent auction and a Kid Zone complete with a bouncy house and face painting. Dubs, the Husky mascot, and the Husky Marching Band add to the vibrant atmosphere.
With the success of the Husky 5k, the council has expanded to a full Alumni Weekend of festivities, including sponsorship of the Bothell Block Party and Brew Fest.
A race to win
Sean Marsh, UW Bothell interim associate vice chancellor for advancement, said that from the beginning the Alumni Council created an event that reflects what it’s like to attend UW Bothell: fun and friendly and with a “can-do” attitude.
“There’s a feeling of family,” Howisey agreed. “You just have a sense that you belong. Whatever it is you need here, you’ll find it because someone is always willing to guide you.”
Sometimes the guidance comes in the form of help with tuition, books and other expenses. In 13 years, proceeds from the 5k have resulted in more than $160,000 for scholarships.
“That’s the thing with this event,” Marsh said. “Not only are people having a great time at the race and connecting with fellow alumni and community members, they’re making it possible for students to graduate. Everyone wins with this race.”