LGBTQ+ Center hosts sixth annual Rainbow Run

The Kirkbid family attends the sixth annual Rainbow Run on Oct. 8, 2021.

Serena Shortridge Reporter

East Main Street became a rainbow of color amidst glow sticks, bracelets and more during the sixth annual Rainbow Run on Friday. 

The Rainbow Run is an annual fundraising event to raise money for the LGBTQ Student Center’s Emergency Fund which seeks to support students in crisis. 

Participants of the run were supported by volunteers passing out a variety of accessories throughout the event and offering encouragement along the way. 

Adrian Johnson, first-time participant, felt supported and inspired by the event’s mission. 

“Everyone here is having a great time and it’s contagious,” Johnson said. “It makes me feel good to be a part of a community where we can gather together to support a good cause.”

Johnson was one of 210 participants who came to the event who helped to contribute $4,800 to the emergency fund. 

Support was also provided by local businesses within the community, such as North Water Street Brewing Co. and LGBTQ-friendly Skullz Salon. Both are located in downtown Kent and helped sponsor the event. 

Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ Student Center said that although the final total from this year’s event is pending, the emergency fund has raised $15,000 to date from previous years. 

“This emergency fund has been used to help students facing homelessness, afford textbooks and get through their last semesters of school. It can be really critical to a lot of students’ success,” Ditlevson said.

Providing resources such as this has helped Kent recently in their winning of the Campus Pride award, which recognizes the most LGBTQ-friendly universities in the nation. 

This years’ race was the third most successful for the Fund, showing optimism for the post-COVID future of the event. 

“This is a really impactful occasion that shows awareness, visibility and support whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally,” Ditlevson said. 

At the end of the race, students were congratulated with medals, photoshoot opportunities, awards, snacks and more. 

A timer was also placed for time tracking purposes while volunteers uplifted all race participants. 

“Despite this being my first race, I felt really accomplished because of the support of those around me,” Johnson said. “Not only was it for a good cause, but it gave me the opportunity to see campus as well.”

The encouraging and supportive environment of the Rainbow Run is enough to keep people coming back. 

“Not only do I plan on participating next year,” Johnson said, “I’ll be showing friends and family as well.”

Serena Shortridge covers diversity. Contact her at [email protected].