UMass Engineers Without Borders holds 5K fundraiser

The club raised $2,000

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UMass Engineers Without Borders holds 5K fundraiser

By Michael Connors, Assistant News Editor

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For most people, a cold and rainy Saturday morning usually calls for staying in bed. But at 10 a.m. this past weekend, the University of Massachusetts chapter of Engineers Without Borders decided to do it differently, holding their annual 5K race on Goodell Lawn.

The race, officially called the “Sweat for Clean Water 5K Run,” is an annual fundraising event for the UMass chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The $2,000 raised goes to supporting the club’s projects in Ghana and Kenya, where students take trips once a year to install water treatment systems and latrines.

“We do this 5K to raise awareness of our group because most of the funding that we get is from donations and various sponsors,” Hannah Wharton, a senior studying civil engineering and member of Engineers Without Borders said.

For the upcoming trip to Ghana, the club is focusing on rehabilitating boreholes, as there are existing ones in some communities that do not yield a sufficient amount of water, said Sami Levalley, a senior studying mechanical engineering who is the manager for the Ghana project.

“They have a yield of water but it’s not enough to install a pump for the community to use,” Levalley said. “So we’re looking to see what methods we can use to increase the yield of these boreholes…eventually we want to install a pump in one of the boreholes so they can use the water from it.”

Abby Laughlin, a junior in Engineers Without Borders studying mechanical engineering, went to Kenya on a trip when she was sophomore that lasted 11 days. After a long journey that included a plane ride to Nairobi and a three-hour ride in a van to a rural village in Kenya, the students built a catchment system that allows the village to harvest and reuse rainwater.

“The projects are really not comprehensive at all,” Laughlin said. “We try to give them the technical expertise so they can retain them.”

Perhaps due to the unfavorable weather, only a fraction of the 50 pre-registered runners showed up to the race on Saturday, but all were smiling and drinking hot coffee to get through the cold rain before the race began.

The route, which had a distance of a little less than the 3.1 miles that 5Ks usually are, snaked through campus from Goodell, then past the Commonwealth Honors College and Recreation Center back to its start.

Within 30 minutes of the race’s 11 a.m. start, many of the runners had already finished. The winner, with a time of 19:11, was seasoned marathon runner and graduate environmental engineering student Mason Saleeba.

“First time I ran this race was in 2011,” Saleeba said. “It was like three or four years ago, it was my senior year. And I was running, and I wasn’t going to win or anything like that — but someone beat me in the last one second of the race, on this track. So I knew that I had to put a little extra effort at the end there, to beat that last minute.”

As he ate a celebratory bagel, Saleeba said that he was happy to win the race and that he thought the race was for a good cause.

“It’s a really fun race, even though it was raining,” Saleeba said. “I felt fantastic. It’s a great cause, and people should get involved.”

Michael Connors can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @mikepconnors.