Sunday in New Haven, runners raced toward their goal of helping refugees of war-torn nations start a new life in Connecticut.
Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services or IRIS, has been holding the Run for Refugees for a decade.
This year, the Run for Refugees raised more money than ever before, with a record number of people participating.
In 2016, 1,100 people took part. This year, organizers had to cap participation at 2,500. IRIS Executive Director and race founder, Chris George, said they were closing in on the $200,000 mark before the race even began. He said that was more money raised than the previous nine years combined.
“People were motivated to come out and show their support when the executive orders were signed last Friday,” said George, referring to the President’s controversial decision to stop accepting Syrian refugees and immigrants from six other nations.
Laura and James Kaiser brought their children to the race and said there was a lesson to be learned by participating.
“I was talking to my daughters this morning about you never know when you need help. It could come all different places. Not just home, it could come from across the planet,” said their mother.
“We could help veterans and we could help other people but I think it’s also that we have enough resources to help people from other countries who need our help as well,” added her husband.
Nineteen-year-old Walie Al Abs is one of five children who settled with his parents in Glastonbury last July with the help of IRIS.
“This is so good for me because for my future. Syria now war. It’s no good. I know the life in Syria now is so bad,” he explained.
George says IRIS will use the money raised through the race to help refugees find housing, education, and other needs.
After the run, the March for Refugees was held. Participants walked from Wilbur Cross High School to the New Haven Green, showing their support for the cause.