Thousands in New Haven came together for the annual Run for Refugees 5K Sunday.
The goal of the event is to raise money and awareness for those who resettle in Connecticut.
Around 2,700 pairs of feet pounded the pavement for the 11th annual race, raising funds for Integrated Refugees and Immigrant Services, or IRIS, which helps refugee families resettle in Connecticut.
“To save their lives, to show the rest of the world that we’re a caring, compassionate nation, and the bonus for us is that it strengthens this country,” explained IRIS executive director Chris George.
It also strengthens school communities, like Wilbur Cross High School. Wilbur Cross is the site of the race and home to 18 refugee students, including Lola Mwilelo.
“I feel excited and joyful. A lot of people are part of the run, and it’s kind of exciting,” said Lola, who is originally from the Congo.
“I feel really excited, because everyone is happy and (enjoying the) day,” added Charlotte Mulungula, from Tanzania.
In three years, IRIS has welcomed 1,000 families, though the group says the policy changes from the Trump Administration has slowed the follow of refugees. The families who have come, IRIS says, have persisted and thrived.
“If you have your doubts about the American Dream, is it still working? It is alive and well with refugees,” George said.