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RaiseRED: An Accidental Experience

I came to the University of Louisville in 2017 as a freshman wanting to do two things. Obviously, the first was to get an education. As we approach the second semester of my senior year, I am happy to say I can almost check off that goal. Education is a tangible goal, and it’s easy to recognize when completed. A diploma in my hand would signal my success. My second goal was much more abstract. I wanted to be as involved as possible and meet as many people as possible. Graduating high school, I had no idea what that would encompass. The problem was that I hardly knew anyone at UofL and had no idea what there was to be involved in.

As a freshman it can be an overwhelming task, especially this year, to find organizations and people that you would want to spend the next 4(ish) years of your life with. I found out about raiseRED through friends of mine that were trying to convince me to register. I remember not knowing really what the organization was or why I was joining, perhaps I thought it was just a chance to hang out with my friends for 18 hours and dance a bit. However, a couple things I do remember from my first marathon were the hot pink shirt of my team, the friends and family that supported my fundraising effort, and the feeling I had at the marathon. That indescribable feeling is what skyrocketed my desire to be a part of raiseRED year after year. Being a team leader last year was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and this year I am honored to serve on raiseRED’s Executive Board.

RaiseRED always moves so fast. One day you post on Facebook explaining what raiseRED is to your family and friends from your hometown, and the next day you’re looking up at the total, crying because of the work put in for such a great cause. College has been the same way. It feels like yesterday that I registered for my first class and now I am almost done!

2020 has been a year of challenges and obstacles, but also a year of resiliency and determination. I see resilience and determination in raiseRED every day. We must be resilient because the kids we fundraise for do not have the option to quit, they don’t have the option to take a year off because the year looks a little different. We must be determined to fundraise for a cure and celebrate the lives of so many in the surrounding community that have lost their loved ones to these horrible diseases. I have never in my life seen people come together for an organization and work so hard for its success. The members of this organization I have met over the past four years have truly become my family.

I might not have known what success looked like for my second goal coming into college, but I can say that as I approach my last raiseRED as a student at UofL, I have succeeded beyond my imagination.


Zach Pennington

Programming Director

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