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The Dartmouth
February 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

18th annual CHaD HEROES event raises $700,00 for childhood healthcare

Proceeds went to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

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Courtesy of Dan Grossman

On Oct. 15, the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center hosted its 18th annual CHaD HERO fundraiser event on the Green. The event, which had over 3,100 participants, consisted of three individual races and raised more than $700,000 to support CHaD’s programs, director of CHaD community fundraising events Olive Isaacs said. 

Among programs supported by the fundraiser is the Child Life Program, which funds specialists for patients’ emotional, developmental and physical needs while they are receiving care, according to Isaacs. CHaD HERO also aids the Pediatric Mental Health Access Initiative, family resource centers across the state and social work at DHMC. 

The CHaD HERO event, the largest fundraising event for DHMC, was founded in 2006 as a way to drive vital funds to the hospital for programs that are otherwise solely funded by philanthropy, Isaacs said.

“[The event] enables us to provide services that otherwise families couldn’t access,” she said.

This year’s event was the first to take place fully on the Green, director of institutional events and logistics James Alberghini said. 

In previous years, CHaD HERO had been held on Wheelock Street in front of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, according to Alberghini. However, ongoing construction in the area made that location unavailable, he added. Due to DHMC’s affiliation with the College, Alberghini said CHaD HEROE is considered an “institutional event,” adding that it is one of only seven events eligible to be held on the Green. 

This year’s event featured a record number of participants, which Isaacs said was largely due to the removal of financial barriers to participation. 

“We changed the model to make our program more accessible to everybody, so we removed registration fees altogether,” Isaacs said. “We just tried to focus on fundraising, and we made sure that there were options for participation [with] zero fundraising.”

College community members, who Isaacs said made up about 25% of the event’s total participants, became one of the fundraiser’s largest cohorts.

Over 20 groups and associations raced and fundraised, including undergraduate Greek houses, athletic teams and clubs, as well as graduate student communities from the Geisel School of Medicine, Isaacs said.

Rujuta Pandit ’24 said she participated in the 5k walk for CHaD as a part of her philanthropy requirements for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Pandit said she enjoyed spending time with her friends through “walk-and-talk” while raising money for CHaD.

According to Pandit, all active members of the sorority were required to participate in the event in some way, either by running or walking the 5k, running the half marathon or volunteering at the event. The sorority raised $1,868 this year from participant and independent donations, she added. 

Pandit said she found it very rewarding to take part in the CHaD and give back to the community and the Upper Valley.

The start and finish lines for all three of the event races — the one-mile family fun run, the 5k and the half marathon — all took place on the Green, Isaacs added. 

The course for the one-mile family fun run, which largely consisted of patients and their families, was a loop from the Green up to Occom Pond and back down to the Green, Isaacs said. The 5k consisted of a walk or run around Occom Pond, then back to the Green, Isaacs added. 

However, Isaacs added that the course of the half marathon took participants up and around Occom Pond, then down into Norwich, Vermont for about eight miles of hills before coming back up to the Green. 

“It’s a challenging half marathon course, but it’s also one of the most beautiful,” Isaacs said. “There [were] incredible views.”

Sam Korff ’27, who raised approximately $2,800 from donations from family and friends, ran the CHaD half marathon as a way to stay active during his first fall in Hanover. 

“I like running, and I thought training for the half marathon and running around Dartmouth would help me get to know Dartmouth better by exploring the different running trails,” he said. “It’s also a good way to stay in shape and avoid getting the freshman 15.” 

The Green was also the center of the CHaD HERO festival and ceremony. Isaacs said the Green featured face painting, activities for kids and food. During the ceremony, event organizers featured 14 pediatric patients as ambassadors of CHaD, as well as a video telling their stories. 

Isaacs said philanthropic efforts such as CHaD HERO enable local healthcare providers to serve all patients, regardless of their financial ability. 

“[CHaD] is able to continue on their mission of never turning a family away based on their inability to pay for their care,” Isaacs said. “That is hugely important and another key reason that programs like the CHaD HEROE need to exist.” 

While Korff said he was excited to take part in the race, he added that knowing that the race was to support CHaD “made [him] want to run it more.” 

“Before we ran the race, they played a video of some of the CHaD HEROs, who are the kids that CHaD has helped, and it was so sweet that it actually made me tear up before the race,” Korff said.