LGBTQ Student Center hosts 3rd 5k fundraiser for emergency fund

Sierra Campbell

The LGBTQ Student Center held its third annual 5K in support of an emergency fund for members of the LGBTQ student community this Friday.

Those who have financial difficulties or no support system can benefit from the fund.

The Rainbow Run’s route stretched across campus, with sponsored tables dotting the path.

Of the 18 business sponsoring event, three sponsors are owned by members of the LGBTQ community in Kent: University Chiropractic and Wellness, Skullz Salon and Bricco.

In addition to the sponsors, the fundraiser sold 200 tickets for the run, with profits going toward the emergency fund.

Sixty volunteers helped set up and facilitate the event. They ranged from community members and parents to faculty, staff and students.

“I went to Virginia Commonwealth;  [when I came here] I didn’t have a community,” said Kayla Cagwin, a graduate student studying sociology. “The Rainbow Run has helped me work with community members and has helped me feel accepted.” 

In the three years since the fundraiser started, the LGBTQ Center raised $32,000 and helped 65 students with the emergency fund.

The fund is exclusively for Kent State students who are part of the LGTBQ community.

Those who wish to access funds go through an interview process with Ken Ditlevson, the director of the LGBTQ student Center. Ditlevson then picks the student and provides funds that either go to their bursar’s account or is paid through the bookstore for supplies.

“It’s a Kent family wrapping its arms around someone whose family has disowned them,” Ditlevson said. “It’s unique to Kent State because not many universities do [emergency funds].”

Some members of the LGBTQ community at Kent State ran alongside their family and friends, giving them support from their home life and the university.

“Love is love,” said Kim Hunt, a Kent resident who ran in support of her two children who are members of the LGBTQ community.

“We really like to support (the) LGBTQ (community) because it is important to us,” said Kathryn Wilson, a chairperson of the economics program and a professor at Kent State. “They know they have our support in the community.” 

Participants had no time limit to finish. Some walked, some ran with at least one biker. Each participant was given a goody bag for their contribution to the emergency fund.

Sean Mcafee, a senior digital media production major, was the first to finish the 3.1 miles. Mcafee is an ally of the LGBTQ community and is passionate about the cause.

“The Rainbow Run is a big production for the small voices on campus,” Mcafee said. “I do not idenitfy as LGBTQ, but I’d do anything for it.”

Sierra Campbell is the Women’s and Gender Issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected].