AU senior raises over $10,000 for BLM with virtual 5K

Over 400 people signed up for the event on Facebook

AU senior raises over $10,000 for BLM with virtual 5K

Photo of the virtual 5K story.

Eddie Cascella, a senior at American University, co-organized a virtual 5K for Justice on June 20 to support and raise money for the Black community and bring awareness to racism and police violence.

Cascella said he never anticipated that something that started as just an idea between friends would end up gaining the traction that it did. Hundreds of people in and out of the AU community came together virtually to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The final tally of $10,218 was raised over the course of a few weeks from 352 donors, and it was split between Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero and the ActBlue Community Bail Fund.

“My friend and I were talking about how we were both white males and we wanted to first acknowledge our privilege and use our place of privilege to raise money for racial justice groups that we saw floating around,” Cascella said. “On social media everywhere, we saw this system of everyone just posting infographics, but we wanted to put our privilege in action and go above and beyond those posts.”

Cascella came up with the idea to hold a virtual 5K since people could not physically come together due to the coronavirus pandemic. Once he got the idea off the ground, he reached out to his friends in D.C., including recent AU graduates, and they worked together to bring the event to fruition. 

On the Facebook event, 446 people marked that they were going and 271 people marked that they were interested. Cascella said that while he was shocked at how quickly the event grew, it was ultimately a testament to the power of social media.

“We really adapted on the fly because it started with just the Facebook event, and we had an event on PayPal, but it really blew up and we ended up creating a GoFundMe page and an Instagram page,” Cascella said. “We didn’t realize the volume of people who would want to be involved so quickly.”

Cascella pushed for attendees to use the hashtag “#5k4justice” to share resources on dismantling racial injustice, but he said most people ended up using it alongside pictures that they shared of themselves running.

Lucy Elliott, a senior at AU, used her platform as captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team to encourage her team to participate in the virtual 5K. 

“I heard about the 5k from a teammate who expressed that it would be a good opportunity for our women’s Ultimate Frisbee team to contribute to the BLM movement,” Elliott said. “It was different from other 5ks I’d participated in because I ran it on my own, but overall, it was a great way to be active and support the BLM movement.”

Cascella said that he hopes to be able to hold this event annually and use his platform to highlight different voices and organizations that advocate for an end to racial injustice.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of momentum now, but people can’t forget that this is a marathon,” Cascella said. “We want to really show our support and stand with the Black community, especially with everything going on with blatant racial injustice and borderline state sanctioned police brutality. It’s key to keep this momentum going.”

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