When Jesus Urzua ran across the Galveston Causeway on March 3 as part of the School of Health Professions’ FunD Run 5K, he did it not just for the stunning bay views—he did it to benefit students, much like himself.
The third-year physical therapy student was one of nearly 500 participants who took part in the annual event, which raised about $24,000 for SHP student scholarships. Urzua, who is currently completing his final clinical rotations, has been the recipient of two scholarships during his time at UTMB.
“The scholarships make it a little bit easier to focus on school and not worry about where all the money is coming from,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty much all loans, so any help that comes my way is greatly appreciated. It’s used for text books, gas money, groceries—it makes a big difference.”
Many SHP students volunteer their time to coordinate the event and help out on race day. It’s a family-friendly event, beginning with a 1K children’s race, followed by the main event: the 5K run and walk. Since pedestrian travel over the causeway is strictly prohibited, it’s a rare opportunity to take Galveston’s only major incline by foot.
Laura Selman, a 78-year-old retired lab technician, has walked the 3.1-mile course every year for the past six years with her good friend, Robert Webb, as a way to keep in shape and give back to the community.
“I was in the lab profession for 40 years, and this race helps people going into that same line of work—that’s why I do it… to help others,” she said, adding with a smile, “I like to win, but if I don’t, I still have fun. It just depends how many people are in my age group. I get so excited!”
Awards are given to the top finishers overall and by age groups, along with “Team Awards” for categories such as “Most Spirited” and the team with the fastest average finishing time. This year’s overall winner of the 5k race was Bryce McAndrew, an SHP student in the Department of Physical Therapy, with a time of 17:56.
Dr. Vicki Freeman, SHP’s interim dean, took part in the walk along with former SHP dean Dr. Elizabeth Protas, who was dressed in a festive green outfit for St. Patrick’s Day. As they posed for pictures with the race winners, Freeman emphasized how events like the FunD Run are entertaining—and also serve a crucial purpose.
“Students in the health professions enter their program of study wanting to help others; however, many of them struggle to finance their education in order to achieve this dream,” said Freeman. “Scholarships provide funds to alleviate the financial burden of their education and allow students to focus on their studies. Without assistance from an outside source, many of UTMB’s SHP students would struggle to make ends meet.”
Urzuo agreed. He enjoyed running the race with friends, but was also proud to partake in an event that supports the needs of UTMB students—and the future of health care.
“I’m really looking forward to starting my career,” he said. “As physical therapists, we really get to build relationships with our patients and motivate them to take charge of their health through exercise.”
Want to participate in next year’s race? Mark your calendars for March 2, 2019, and visit https://shp.utmb.edu/FunDRun for more information.