The upcoming Running4Refugees event will benefit both local and global refugees through charity runs, a donation drive, a silent auction and refugee vendors.
More than 100 BYU students are volunteering with nonprofit AMAR Foundation to plan the family-friendly event, which will take place March 24 in Orem.
There are several opportunities to participate, including 1K and 5K races, world cuisine vendors, a silent auction and a marketplace where local refugees will sell their goods. Registration for the races is now available online.
BYU graduate Emily Stevens works as the western U.S. regional manager for the AMAR Foundation and oversees the event planning.
“All of the legwork is done by volunteers who feel really strongly and want to do something to make a difference and have talents to offer,” Stevens said.
BYU sociology major Alyssa Clark said she got involved with the organization when she heard Stevens speak at a lecture on campus in September and asked Stevens how she could help.
Clark is the volunteer event coordinator for Running4Refugees. She brought together friends and fellow BYU students to create committees while working with Stevens to plan the event.
“This event will have a unique energy because we are aiming to bring together so many different parts of the refugee world,” Clark said. “It will be a very holistic experience, interacting with refugees face-to-face and learning more about both the local and global needs of refugees.”
Stevens said people who don’t like running should still consider either walking in the casual races or grabbing a bite to eat at the marketplace.
“The idea is that you’re coming and having a cultural experience, and you have the opportunity to support these refugees and their businesses,” Stevens said.
Stevens said the event will be both an educational experience and an opportunity to get involved with refugees and the community.
“Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do individually to make a difference in this world, but I have seen over and over that those little details such as showing up often opens up doors that lead to really awesome things,” Stevens said.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, one in every 113 people worldwide is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. About 12 percent of the world’s refugees come to the U.S., and approximately 60,000 are relocated to Utah.
The proceeds from the food vendors and the marketplace with goods sold by local refugees will directly benefit Utah refugees. The AMAR Foundation will distribute the proceeds from the silent auction and race registration to refugees in the Middle East.
Clark said Running4Refugees will be an opportunity for refugees and community members to interact, become friends and close their social distance.
“There will be great food, loads of fun and awesome people,” Clark said.