Hundreds of people turned out for the 18th annual Julia’s Run for Children at Yale University Sunday.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Julia Rusinek Memorial Fund and benefits the Leadership Education Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), a New Haven organization that offers year-round academic and social programs for youth from high poverty neighborhoods in the city. Over the years Julia’s Run for Children has raised over $199,000 for LEAP, and organizers expected to raise another $15,000 Sunday.
Julia Rusinek was a 21-year-old Yale student when she collapsed while jogging and died on July 15, 1999. Her death was attributed to a previously undetected heart condition. Her family began hosting this four-mile run in her memory, to turn their tragedy into something positive for the community.
Rusinek’s family said she loved children and often volunteered with local organizations, which was why the decided to partner with LEAP.
LEAP Executive Director Henry Fernandez said the money raised through the run goes to local programming that covers everything from literacy to computer science to swimming to cooking classes. LEAP serves about 1,000 children in New Haven.
Fernandez said they do discuss Julia Rusinek’s memory with the children so they understand everyone can have a positive impact on the community.
“We want kids to understand that they too can give back and make a difference in their community, and she’s a wonderful example of that,” Fernandez said.
Adults and children are all welcome to the Run for Children. For more information about Julia Rusinek and the run, visit the website.