PNWU Run For Your Life 5k Raises Nearly 16K for Northwest Harvest

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences recently hosted the 7th Annual Run for Your Life 5K. 

The event, which took place April 8 on the PNWU campus, succeeded in raising $15,912 for Northwest Harvest’s Three Squares Backpack program, which feeds hungry children in up to 50 high-need public schools throughout Washington.

We recently caught up with Colby Nixon, PNWU osteopathic medical student and the race director for this year’s event, who joined us fresh off of presenting the check to Northwest Harvest…

When you joined onto the Run for Your Life 5K project, did you envision this sort of success? How has it made you feel?

Having been a part of Run for Your Life as the Media Director last year, I wanted to see success similar to what we enjoyed under our previous Race Director, Kevin Sigley. I knew this would be a challenge as we were moving the location and holding it a week earlier than in previous years, so I was not sure what to expect. RFYL is a group effort, and a lot of people really came together to make it what it was this year. In particular, Brooke Steadman, who is a Selah native headed up our fundraising for the second year in a row (actually, she's been a part of this event since before she was even in med school). Additionally, Brandi Boden and Sarah Cook were our Health Fair Coordinators and were responsible for the great success we saw with that this year.

I was so glad to have so many people come out and participate and I have to say, even though there were fewer participants than last year, primarily due to the success of the health fair, I have no regrets about moving the race back to campus.

What went into the process of selecting Northwest Harvest as this year’s beneficiary? What about that organization connected with both you and PNWU?

Each year, we select a different beneficiary, so as to “spread to love,” if you will. Northwest Harvest actually reached out to us, and they were one of several organizations in the Yakima Valley that we carefully reviewed and then voted on. We were a little hesitant at first because it is a statewide organization and we like to keep things more local, but once we were assured that all proceeds would go to their Three Squares Backpack Program to help fight food insecurity in school-age children in the Yakima Valley (essentially, this program allows for all children to have healthy meals to eat over weekends, school vacations, or any time when they cannot get meals at the school), that really sealed the deal for us. 

What do you hope your efforts go on to accomplish?

According to Sheri, since the program has been instituted, grades have improved and behavioral issues have decreased. As we all know, correlation does not necessarily equal causality, but in this case, ensuring that children have enough to eat is never a bad idea. We are hoping that this donation will allow Northwest Harvest to continue to see the results they are seeing.

How did it feel handing over the donation you helped to raise to an organization like Northwest Harvest?

In one word: phenomenal. We were so excited to see our hard work go into fruition and move into the next stage.

What do you envision for the future of the RFYL 5K, as well as PNWU’s charitable/community outreach?

I am very stoked to see where next year’s leadership will take this. I think this was a very solid transition year, in terms of a new course and health fair location, and I believe that once we have established ourselves in the Terrace Heights community we will see the number of participants swell.

What makes PNWU such a great place to organize/host events that help the community as yours has? 

PNWU is an outstanding place to host this event — everyone wants you to succeed and the people within the school, from Dave Warner in facilities to Ben Hittle in security to everyone over at Iron Horse, is a fount of knowledge and resources. I definitely have to give a shout out to everyone in Student Affairs for their patience in taking the time to really work with us and really help make this event what it is.

I am so happy that everything went so smoothly- this event has given me personally, as an outsider from Maine, the chance to become part of the Yakima community.