CHaD HERO Fundraiser Makes New Strides
The Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock is located just about three miles from campus. While students might attend workshops or lectures there, the annual CHaD Hero Fundraiser brings the spirit of the community to Dartmouth through a fun and meaningful tradition. The 2019 CHaD Hero took place on Sunday, Oct. 20.
This annual fundraiser has evolved from when it first started in 2006. During its first year, there was only one event — the half marathon. The fundraiser has grown to consist of a half-marathon, a 5k run, a one-mile fun run, a 5k walk, a 5-mile wooded hike, and a 25-or 50-mile bike ride. This year, the fundraiser garnered over $800,000, and donations are still coming in.
With over 1,000 participants, the top individual fundraiser was Saheer Mathrani ’20, for the third year in a row. Mathrani first became involved in the CHaD HERO his sophomore year through his fraternity, but said that he has been involved with pediatric care since elementary school.
“Pediatric medicine is pretty important to me. I’ve had a few encounters — familial and friends that I care a lot about, so I decided to go pretty hard the first year,” Mathrani said. “It’s motivated me to keep on fundraising for years to come.”
Since Mathrani has become involved in the fundraiser, he said that a primary goal of his has been to increase undergraduate, especially first-year, participation.
“While fundraising myself is cool, I’m lucky that my parents have benevolent friends who are able to donate to charities,” Mathrani said. “I feel like I’ve put a lot more work into this freshman program, and getting some type of ripple effect has been really rewarding.”
While Mathrani is a veteran participant of the CHaD HERO, and now is a member of the executive committee that plans the course and organizes the fundraiser, there were several first-time participants. Among them was Sylvia Hipp ’22.
Hipp said running a half-marathon has always been a goal for her, especially since she was a runner in high school. She began training over the summer with a friend for this race. As a first-year, she had not known that the CHad HERO was happening until the day of, and said she was happy to be able to participate in it this year.
“Fundraising was a cool part that I did not know how to do, but I put it up on Facebook and ended up raising more than my goal,” Hipp said. “I got a lot of responses from family members that I wasn’t really expecting, which was really nice.”
This CHaD HERO will be memorable for Hipp as her first half-marathon, but she said that she plans on participating again next year. After seeing the support from her friends and family from just one week, she said believes she will be able to raise even more money in the future.
Several of Dartmouth’s athletic teams came to support the participants. Among them was Mikala Uter ’23, a member of the Dartmouth cheerleading team. They moved around, cheering on the runners, and eventually lined up by the end of the course to watch the participants finish.
“Dartmouth is known for being the center of everything in the area, but it’s more than just the setting itself,” Uter said. “Witnessing everyone — faculty, alumni, parents, families — coming together to support such a great cause was beautiful to see.”
An especially memorable sight for Uter was watching the kids finish the race, and she said that this is something she hopes she can do again in the years to come.
“It was an amazing experience — seeing the capes flying all around their little bodies and the big smiles on their faces,” Uter said.
In addition to the races, East Wheelock Street was blocked off for the many festivities that came along with the event. Food stands and activities were set up for people of all ages to enjoy. A capella groups performed, and kids could ride on animatronic animals, making the street busy with a bustle of activities.
The CHaD HERO fundraiser has grown immensely since its birth in 2006, and according to Mathrani, he sees continued expansion and growth in the coming years. This is due largely in part of first-time attendees like Hipp, who find the experience rewarding and become motivated to participate in the future, Mathrani said.
“It really captures the spirit of the school and the community,” Hipp said.