On a cool but sunny Sunday morning in May, 10 Babson College faculty and staff members gathered for a video call at 7 a.m. The mood was light, irreverent even.
“It’s not pretty. It is not a pretty polished thing,” Kristen Getchell said. “There’s a lightheartedness to it. And, it’s not like we’re looking to set any records.”
The associate professor of business communications is talking about the Faculty and Staff Run to Support Students, the second annual gathering of friends and colleagues who come together to run 10 miles, laugh, trash talk, and triumph. The run also raises money for the Student Emergency Fund, created to assist Babson students impacted by the pandemic with current needs during the upcoming academic year. This year, the Faculty and Staff Run raised $6,555.
At the end of the call, members of the group individually said goodbye to their spouses, children, and dogs. They laced up their running shoes, grabbed their water bottles, snapped some photos, and set out for the 10-mile challenge.
In stark contrast to last year’s run at the peak of the COVID crisis, this year, participants were able to choose whether they ran their own routes, or ran together as a pack. Most ran their own routes, setting out from various locations around New England, while some ran together—starting and finishing at Babson—a true sign of hope as guidelines are eased across the region.
From a Tweet to a Cause
The Faculty and Staff Run began as banter between Getchell and Rob Major, the director of undergraduate administration.
“There’s a group of us that run together periodically, and we were talking about doing half-marathons. And then, suddenly, on Twitter, Kristen kind of baited me a little bit,” Major said.
Perhaps you can join me in such an endeavor – I think you are up for it!
— Rob Major (@DeanRMajor) April 27, 2020
The conversation quickly went from being slightly cheeky to focusing on what they could do to help the Babson community, especially students, during the peak of the pandemic.
“I had a lot of students in my classes who I knew were relying on the Student Emergency Fund for different basic things such as internet connections,” Getchell said. “We started thinking that we can sit home and feel helpless. Or, we can try to do something, as much as we can do right now. Something fun, something that would bring us together, but also something that would raise a little money and awareness for the Emergency Fund.”
At peak pandemic, with their idea and cause in hand, the small group of five runners completed their own 10-mile routes, on the same day, at the same time, and recorded it along the way, later turning it all into a short video to raise awareness.
Then and Now
This year, the running group broadened its scope, recruited more heavily, grew to 10 runners, and set out to raise funds once again. And, the difference was palpable.
“Last year, we were really thinking about our students very acutely,” Getchell said. “I don’t think we really knew what was ahead of us, so it felt like we were doing something directly for them.”
“We kept it kind of small,” Major said. “We had to run with masks, we didn’t run together, everything was tightly controlled, and there was that unknown.”
Fast forward a year, and so much has changed. Babson had just held in-person and digital Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021, and will open fully this fall.
“This year felt liberating because we could run together, and we didn’t have to have masks. It was exciting to feel like we went—in one year—from this world crisis, away from that, and we’ve come such a long way.”
Rob Major, director of undergraduate administration
“This year felt liberating,” Major said, “because we could run together, and we didn’t have to have masks. It was exciting to feel like we went—in one year—from this world crisis, away from that, and we’ve come such a long way.”
In addition to Getchell and Major, the 2021 running squad included Associate Director of Marketing and Division Chair Lauren Beitelspacher, Assistant Professor of Math and Science David Blodgett, Professor of Math Richard Cleary, Director of Administration, Division of Learner Success and Campus Life Erin Freda MBA’14, Associate Professor and Division Chair of the Accounting and Law Division Benjamin Luippold ’01, Adjunct Lecturer and Director of Academic Technologies Eric Palson MBA’09, Dean of Babson Academy and Global Education Amir Reza, and and Assistant to the Dean, Undergraduate School Raquel Robertson.
The growing group plans to keep the momentum going.
“The goal is to do this every year around graduation day as a way to celebrate the year but also remember that it’s about students and what we can do for them,” Getchell said. “It really does show you the generosity of those who donate, particularly of the Babson community.”
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