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Road race raises over $40k for HAVEN

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2018 - Spring

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By 9:30 on the morning of October 7 the line to register for ANDA, the fifth annual road race for the HAVEN Free Clinic, was snaking out the door of the activity center at Edgewood Park. Even before the doors opened that morning, 286 runners had registered, and the organizers were several thousand dollars past their fundraising goal of $30,000. Another 27 runners registered in the morning to run or walk the 5-kilometer route through the park, and by race’s end the final tally was $40,600—a significant jump from last year’s race, which netted $27,000.

The funding came from runners who paid the $25 registration fee, donations, and corporate and individual sponsors.

“We think the key to our fundraising success has been a combination of teamwork, early planning, and having the right people on board to organize and execute the event,” said Patrick Liu, a second-year medical student and one of the clinic’s three co-directors. “Another important facet was our willingness to send constant reminders to the Greater New Haven community about why the 5K is important. It all comes back to helping our patients get the care they need and deserve—this mission is why everyone joined HAVEN in the first place.”

During opening ceremonies, Ariela Zebede, a Yale College student and the clinic’s patient services director, said that the race is the clinic’s biggest fundraiser and provides about two-thirds of its annual operating expenses. The funding covers free medication, vaccines, transportation to and from the clinic, and onsite phlebotomy. Last year, she said, the clinic provided care to 750 community members at no cost to them.

Sascha Murillo, a fifth-year medical student and one of the clinic co-directors, noted that its mission is to provide free health care to residents who face such barriers as immigration status, employment status, and affordability. “Over the years our clinic has become an important source of primary care to hundreds of uninsured residents in the Greater New Haven area,” she said, adding a warning that a changing national political climate threatens health care and social services for the most vulnerable.

“HAVEN is going to continue to provide health care to the uninsured and uphold our belief that health care is a right,” Murillo said. “HAVEN will remain a safe and welcoming environment for all our patients, regardless of country of origin, immigration status, primary language, or ability to pay.”

This year’s race saw a change in locale from its original route, a loop that took runners and walkers from Jocelyn Square Park in Fair Haven to the banks of the Quinnipiac River and back. This year the out-and-back route was entirely within the confines of Edgewood Park.

“Running the race in Fair Haven meant closing down a lot of streets, which interrupted the daily life of the residents that we serve in our clinic,” said Liu. Another reason for the change, he said, was a lower cost without the street closings.

As runners arrived on shuttle buses from the Yale campus, they gathered outside the activity center, waiting for the race to begin, and joining in a group stretching and warmup session. Many participants were clinic volunteers like Saybrook College student Willemijn van Deursen, who formed a team with seven of her classmates and raised $1,000. The Yale Aortic Institute’s team of staff, students, and postdocs raised $350. The School of Public Health fielded the largest team—more than 20 students—and raised more than $15,000.

This year also saw a record number of patients participate in the run: seven, up from two last year. Murillo credited the “couch to 5k” initiative, run by the clinic’s education department, for the boost.

Organizers also offered thanks to the volunteers who make the clinic possible, among them doctors, nurses, and physician associates who give up their Saturday mornings, Yale College students who perform a variety of services, and law students who provide legal services.