Organizers are pulling together a team of SUNY Cortland faculty, staff and alumni to help support the local fight against child abuse by running in a hybrid 5K fundraiser from Sept. 15 to 17.
“One child abused is one too many,” said Paige Potter ’21, M ’23, community outreach educator with the Cortland County Child Advocacy Center since last summer. She noted that an estimated one out of every 10 children will be abused before their 18th birthday.
That’s why the annual event, sponsored by child advocacy centers throughout the state, was named the “One Too Many 5K.”
Potter, a SUNY Cortland graduate and former standout Red Dragon lacrosse goalie, has teamed up with Jaclyn Lawrence ’12, M ’14, SUNY Cortland associate director of athletics, to drum up campus community participation in the challenge, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16.
It will be the first time SUNY Cortland has assembled a team to raise money for the Cortland County Child Advocacy Center through the run, which is in its fifth year. Individuals can become part of the university’s team when they register online for the race by selecting “SUNY Cortland Red Dragons” and the “Cortland County Child Advocacy Center.”
Registration costs $40 per person, with 75% of it going directly to support child advocacy centers like the one in Cortland. The center’s multi-disciplinary team facilitates child abuse investigations and evaluations and provides education about the issue in local schools and other venues.
By creating a SUNY Cortland team, the university community can encourage more participation and give SUNY Cortland a shot at winning this year’s Individual Team Challenge Award.
“I think this would be a great thing for our campus to support,” Lawrence said. “I am hopeful that we can make a SUNY Cortland team that can include faculty, staff and alumni. According to Paige, Cortland County has been consistently in second place in registrations behind Dutchess County, and I don’t think any of us like coming in second!”
Organized by the New York State Children’s Alliance, the 5K will happen at locations all across New York, with the Cortland County event to kick off at 10 a.m. that Saturday in front of Homer High School.
Participants in the 5K can register up through the day of the event, either online the day before the race and in person on the day itself.
Team members can also choose to complete their 5K virtually anytime between Friday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept.17. These participants can run anywhere they like. They must track and submit their own completion date, time and location in their neighborhood, area park or on their treadmill. Virtual results submitted by the race date will be considered for prizes.
In addition to helping SUNY Cortland win the Team Challenge Award, individuals may win statewide competition prizes in the following categories:
The 5K will be followed by a “Be a Star for Children” barbecue lunch from noon to 3 p.m. at Homer Hops in Homer, N.Y. The event, which requires separate registration, will feature prizes and a basket raffle/silent auction run by Homer radio station WXHC Always Classic, with items valued at up to $3,000 donated by corporations and individual donors.
“Be a Star for Children” is $20 for general admission, with all but $5 waived for that day’s 5K participants; and $10 for children 12 and under.
“(SUNY Cortland) has a lot of faculty and staff who are into running, and it is a good way for us to support our community,” said Potter, noting the agency last year achieved its goal to raise $25,000. “It can benefit people in our community.”
Potter, a former sociology major who grew up in Cortland, has a Master of Science in Community Health and Preventive Medicine at her alma mater. In her current role, she visits schools and community groups to raise awareness about how to spot signs of child abuse and how to work with the center to help end child abuse.
“I’m still learning new things every single day,” Potter said. “It’s a very fulfilling job when it comes to learning how to become an advocate for people who don’t have a voice, speaking on behalf of them or helping them to speak. What we deal with isn’t enjoyable but getting to help the kids is.”
Last year, Potter completed her first One Too Many 5K on her own time due to a prior lacrosse team commitment. She walked in Cortland from Tompkins Street to Broadway Avenue to Groton Avenue to achieve her five kilometers.
“It was basically a big loop around campus,” Potter said. “It’s not a bad one.”
Image: Paige Potter ’21, M ’23, community outreach educator with the Cortland County Child Advocacy Center, displays swag that was given to participants in last year’s 5K.