For the third year, business students at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City are planning for the BIG Little Hero Race, held on campus on Saturday, April 15.
This superhero-themed race raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan. Heather welcomes to the show several of the students part of this effort, along with their instructor Kristy McDonald and marathoner/Big Brothers Big Sisters advocate Tony Anderson. The students—Abby Gudith, Sam Javed and Drew Geralds—talk about this year’s event, which includes a kids fun run in addition to the 10K and 5K, costume awards and post-race festivities like face painting, music, snacks, silent raffle and more. {To listen to this show about the BIG Little Hero Race, click on the player above}

Photo courtesy race organizers

Heather talks about her family’s involvement in last year’s race (this race is dog-friendly, so they brought their two Labs, dressed up as “Batman” canines, too). The races start on campus and the courses take runners out Old Mission Peninsula. Each child who participates receives a free cape, thanks to NMC’s College for Kids. A fun run just for kids is held on campus. Last year’s race raised about $26,000, and the students have a goal of exceeding that amount this year. This year’s race also honors the late Sonja Olshove, a beloved social sciences teacher at NMC. “Sonja believed that everyone should have a hero and was involved with the Hero Imagination Project … Sonja was a NMC superhero and we wanted to celebrate and remember her,” Abby Gudith says.
You can listen to the entire show by clicking on the player at the top of this post. Here’s more of what the students had to say about this year’s race:
This is the race’s third year- What did you learn from putting on last year’s event and what changes, if any, will there be for this event?
Last year’s race was an amazing experience, the outpour of community support and participation was humbling. We learned how to be more efficient with the registration and day of execution. We also wanted to make the medal ceremony more streamlined and organized.

Photo courtesy race organizers

How would you describe the race experience? What are the 10K and 5K courses like? The races start on NMC’s beautiful campus outside West Hall. Both races head out the peninsula – following East Shore Drive. The views of East Bay are stunning. Both courses turn around on the peninsula and return to campus in a slightly different route. We also have a free one mile fun run. Every child who runs receives a free cape – sponsored by NMC’s College for Kids. The fun run is entirely on campus and the road is closed to traffic during the run.

What does this mean to NMC students to organize a community race? Why is it important to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

This race has become a huge priority to the class. We started just trying to get a good grade and now we care about the future of the race, this years event, and  BBBS. The class is completely dedicated to giving this service learning project everything we have. Being able to include community organizations as sponsors, racers and hopefully  future Bigs is an important task that we are 100% committed to.  It also offers us, the students, a real-life, hands-on experience working with local businesses and nonprofits so we can improve our communication and leadership skills.

We decided to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters because of what they are doing in our community. BBBS impacts our community in a way we believe is very important, through the children.  They help local children in  find someone who can push them in the right direction, and really shape their future for the better. This race is the least we can do for such an amazing cause. Children are our future, and BBBS helps these future community members know their future is bright and full of amazing things.  

Photo courtesy race organizers

This race will honor Sonja Olshove, a beloved social sciences instructor at NMC…tell us about Sonja and this decision to honor her at this year’s race.

Sonja was one of NMC’s most influential and loved professors. She taught here for 25 years, touching the hearts and minds of many students and staff.  Her passion for education was met with the Imogene Wise Faculty Excellence award for teaching not once, but twice. She was the only NMC professor to win the award twice. Sonja believed that everyone should have a hero and was involved with the Hero Imagination Project. A project that aimed to help people engage in heroic events in their lifetime. Sonja was a NMC superhero and we wanted to celebrate and remember her.

What will the post-race experience be like? 

After the race medals will be awarded to the top three male and female runners in every age category: 5k and the 10k. We have awesome superhero medals! There are prizes for best superhero costume for: male/ female adult,  male/female child and team costume. The prize for the best super kid costume is $50 towards a College for Kids class this summer!  

The race has a children’s carnival area with: face painting, balloon art, games, photo booth, treats and live music. There is a silent raffle and other opportunities to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters so tuch a few bills into your cape!

Photo courtesy race organizers

Any great costume ideas to share with runners who plan to sign up for this race?

Participants are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero. In the past we have witnessed amazing involvement from community members with this idea, and have had costumes ranging from classic Superman, to groups dressed as the Avengers. Runners who register for the race before April 1 will receive a free technical race shirt designed by the students, and are encouraged to wear those as well. It is our hopes that people will come out to not only support an amazing cause and organization like BBBS, but to also have fun interacting with the community. All of us are excited to see what this year’s group of runners will wear to the event.

Photo courtesy race organizers

Everyone from NMC’s Business Students for Big Brothers Big Sisters would love to extend our gratitude to everyone reading and listening, as well as our sponsors. Without the support of local businesses this event would not be as successful as it has been. We have coupons for past runners and teams who wish to register. As the event draws closer, and on race day itself, we ask that everyone would tag any photos or social media posts with #biglittleherorace so that we can all share this amazing experience together. Thank you so much for having us on the podcast to share this event with all of your listeners, we hope to see everyone at NMC on April 15 for the Big Little Hero Race!

We all walked into Kristy’s Business Communication Class not knowing what to expect. Most of us had no idea how to organize such an impactful community event like the race. But flash forward to now and almost all of us stay over dismissal to make sure we are getting everything done.

Ready to sign up? Register here »

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