After the tragic events of August 11th and 12th, life in Charlottesville feels different. On the same Lawn that thousands of students traverse each day, White supremacists marched, torches in hand. The next afternoon, they violently protested at Emancipation Park and killed Heather Heyer on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville’s commercial and communal hub.
Charlottesville isn’t home for most U.Va. students, but it is their place of residence for eight months out of the year. And, for many, Charlottesville becomes much more than that. “We felt obligated to help because it was home away from home for us,” said Andy Page, one of 11 students organizing Together We Run, a series of runathons supporting social and racial justice organizations throughout the South.
Page and most of his co-organizers weren’t back in Charlottesville for those two days in August, and they were forced to watch on television and social media as violence and hatred descended upon their second home. Those memories won’t soon fade, but the organizers of Together We Run didn’t want memories and condolences alone – they wanted action. “We wanted to do something tangible,” Page said.
And so they formed Together We Run.
Five cities – Charlottesville, Washington, Charleston, Miami, and Austin – will host these runathons in December and January. Participants will run as far as they can in a three-hour period, with friends and family pledging donations for every mile. “It’s a pretty powerful model,” Page said. With five to ten pledges per runner, “it expands drastically the number of people who are participating.”
All proceeds from the events will be donated to non-profits, with each runathon benefiting a different organization. The full list is as follows:
Charlottesville, VA: The Heather Heyer Foundation
Washington, D.C.: One Nation Indivisible
Charleston, SC: The Emanuel AME Church
Miami, FL: Community Justice Project
Austin, TX: Austin Justice Coalition
Together We Run has also planned a national runathon for January 3rd to benefit YWCA’s Stand Against Racism campaign. Participants can log their miles remotely and support Together We Run’s mission even if they live on the other side of the country.
Charlottesville kicks off the runathon series on Saturday, December 2nd at 9am. Participants will start at Madison Bowl, where Together We Run will provide music, snacks, and a joyful, community-oriented atmosphere.
Those interested in participating can sign up here. A ticket to run costs $15 and comes with an Anython link to send to friends and family who wish to pledge further donations. Those who purchase a ticket by November 18th will get a free t-shirt, too. You can also help spread the word by sharing the Facebook event page.
As Page told me, there’s something special about hundreds of people devoting their Saturday morning to positive cause. The financial donations make a massive impact for these organizations, of course. Yet he and his co-organizers also want these nationwide gatherings to send a powerful message: Hate has no place here.