Camp Kesem Holds First Annual 5K Run


Hector Sanchez Castaneda
Staff Writer
Photo by Candice Ge, Staff Photographer

Students from the University of California, Santa Barbara participated in a 5K race held by Camp Kesem around the lagoon on May 2. Camp Kesem is a nationwide organization that dedicates its resources to holding events for children of cancer patients. The UCSB Chapter is in its first year on campus.

“Camp Kesem started at Stanford and now it has been over 63 schools around the nation,” fourth-year global studies major and Camp Kesem counselor Shaida Hiekali said. “This is our first year, so we’re a first year chapter here.”

Registration for the race began at 9 AM and the race started at 9:45 AM. After the race, participants were offered free Camp Kesem T-shirts and food.

“The course was a run around the lagoon,” Hiekali said. “It started on the faculty club lawn and it’s a beautiful course that goes through and around the lagoon and all the way to the marine biology center. It’s the course used for the turkey trot. When we got in touch with a friend from Rec Cen, she helped us a lot and gave us this course.”

Third-year biopsychology major and first place winner (with a time of 17.10.35) Adam Roeder said why participating in events like this are important.

“It’s important to sign up for charity races because there are a lot of kids that don’t get to have the opportunities that we have and giving back—every step counts basically,” Roeder said. “This is a fun way to do it so I’m glad I came out and supporting these kids is, from the bottom of my heart, very important to me.”

After the race, first-year electrical engineering major Himangshu Chowdhury said he feels events like the 5K are a positive thing to participate in.

“At events like this you get to support good causes,” Chowdhury “Also, you get to enjoy yourself. So supporting a good cause while enjoying yourself is a perfect thing to do I would say.”

Participants were encouraged to leave a painted hand print and signature on a large sign that read “CK 5K 2015—I Had A Hand in the Magic of CK.” Camp Kesem coordinators plan on taking the sign to their summer camp, scheduled for June after graduation.

“The camp’s purpose is to let kids just be kids,” Hiekali said. “We want to put on a free cost magical summer camp for kids whose parents have cancer so they can just go back to their childhood to forget about their worries and stresses of everyday life, and just have this incredible week of camp where they can just be kids and have fun.”

According to Hiekali, the race was made possible thanks to the support and donation of the community.

“We had a lot of community support and donations,” Hiekali said. “We got our snacks and food from Jimmy John’s, Albertsons, and Trader Joe’s. Sweet Alley, Blenders, Backyard Bowls, Kyle’s Kitchen, Silvergreens, Sports Authority, Woodstocks—they all contributed in one way or another today.”

At the end of the event, Hiekali stated why events like this are mutually beneficial for the community and for Camp Kesem.

“I think it’s a way where [participants] are getting something out of it to.” Hiekali “It’s bringing the community together. I met so many people from them signing up. It was so cool to table one day and then have them show up today and be like, ‘You know, I wasn’t going to come but I did because I remember the [organization] and I remember the conversation we had.’ It’s so cool how so many people come and say, ‘This was a great 5k, but I want to learn more about Camp Kesem.’ It’s like a stepping stone to become more involved in the cause.”

If you want to get involved in Camp Kesem, Hiekali recommends following the organization’s Facebook page titled: Camp Kesem UCSB. General meeting information is posted periodically on the page.

Hector is from Ensenada, Mexico, and is currently a sophomore majoring in English. After beginning as a staff writer his first year, Hector became Isla Vista Beat reporter. If he isn't reading a book or re-watching episodes of Breaking Bad, he's probably writing about Isla Vista.