CHaD Hero raises over $840,000

by John Fulton | 10/26/17 2:00am

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The CHaD Hero event includes walks, runs and bike races.

by Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The Green was a hub of activity this past Sunday as Upper Valley residents and Dartmouth students came together for the 12th annual Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hero fundraiser. The event, which featured a half-marathon, a 5K run and walk, 25- and 50-mile bike races and the “Cam’s Course” fun run, has raised over $843,000 so far.

The event had over 2,800 participants, 357 volunteers and over 200 Dartmouth athlete assistants this year, according to CHaD event and project coordinator Hilary Schuler.

Of the 2,800 participants, more than 200 were Dartmouth students, Schuler said.

The $843,000 raised this year is a record amount for the event, Schuler said. Last year, the fundraiser raised over $775,000 and approximately $700,000 the year before.

One of the driving forces behind the CHaD Hero is Positive Tracks, a Hanover-based nonprofit that combines philanthropy with youth athletic events.

According to Positive Tracks founder and chief executive officer Nini Meyer, the organization serves as the CHaD Hero’s “youth platform,” helping young people organize teams and fundraising efforts leading up to the event. The organization also matches any amount that participants 23 and under raise.

Meyer said Positive Tracks was born out of her involvement in the first CHaD Hero 12 years ago, and the organization is now one of the event’s most involved benefactors. While Positive Tracks helps young people get organized and “amplifies their efforts,” Meyer said.

In addition, the number of CHad Hero participants this year significantly surpassed the organizers’ initial goal of 2,000 participants, Meyer said.

Meyer attributed the event’s growth and success to community enthusiasm, especially that of young people in the local area and at Dartmouth.

According to Meyer, some of the event’s largest donations come from Dartmouth athletic teams and Greek organizations, including Psi Upsilon fraternity, which raised $25,042, the second-largest amount of money out of the CHaD Hero’s fundraising teams.

The River Valley Club, a health and fitness club in Lebanon, raised the most out of the CHaD Hero teams. The club has raised about $27,000 so far, according to RVC chief executive officer Jennifer Poljacik, although she noted that they are still accepting donations and hope to reach a $30,000 goal.

To raise money, RVC challenged each of its seven departments to organize an individual fundraiser for the CHaD Hero and “incentivized the staff … to get team members and raise money,” Poljacik said.

While Poljacik said it was not RVC’s goal to be the top group fundraiser, everyone at the club was highly enthusiastic about getting involved with the event for the first time this year.

“I’m glad we finally did it,” Poljacik said. “It was a pretty outstanding experience and I think we’re going to do it again year after year.”

This year’s largest individual fundraiser was Saheer Mathrani ’20. Mathrani has had a vested interest in pediatric medicine since he was in fifth grade, when one of his close friends passed away from pediatric cancer.

“I’ve always been very interested in furthering pediatric medicine because it doesn’t get a lot of funding,” Mathrani said.

His concern for the area spurred him to raise money for the CHaD Hero this year, and he initially set a personal fundraising goal of $200.

After emailing about 75 family members and friends asking for donations, he ended up raising $12,370 for the event.

Going forward, in addition to participating in the CHaD Hero again next year, Mathrani plans to become involved with CHaD in other ways.

“I’m going to start volunteering there … and do whatever I can,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s really important.”

In addition to being a major fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, Meyer said that the CHaD Hero is also an important community-builder for residents of the Upper Valley.

“It’s really cool to see youth and adults of all backgrounds and all shapes and sizes out there on behalf of CHaD,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see.”