On Sunday, December 3, 2017, six Rutgers Global staff and four international student volunteers braved the cold to join thousands of participants—from as young as five years to as old as 78—for the Big Chill, a yearly Rutgers 5K charity race that collects toys and games for children aged three to 14.
Melaina Fraboni, James Jones, Katsumi Kishida, Erica Sewell, and Lauren Tong of Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services, and Greg Costalas of Rutgers Global–Programs participated in the race, along with four international student volunteers: Ruoting Jia, Yao Lu, Peter Shaw, and Yu-Chun Shen.
"The Big Chill is a great cause to support during this time of year. Instead of a standard registration fee, the organizers of the Big Chill ask for participants to donate a toy. The toys are collected and given to many local charities around New Jersey who distribute them to families in need--it helps children who maybe wouldn't have presents this seasons to have a gift to unwrap during the holidays," said Costalas.
Though it is a 5K challenge, Costalas said that it was open to participants of all levels of athletic skill.
"The Big Chill is an easy walk or run, and you can go at your own pace to support a great cause and get some exercise," he said.
Costalas, who said he's wanted to "do the Big Chill for a few years," finally attended the race thanks to an impromptu suggestion from some of his Rutgers Global colleagues. Tong, who has also participated in the event in the past, said she hopes to "create an official Rutgers Global group with more colleagues" next year.
"Although the temperature a bit chilly—hence the name the Big Chill—the atmosphere was warm, and the energy level was high," said Tong. "It was inspiring to know that over 7,000 Rutgers community members also joined the event and, together, we collected over 8,000 children’s gifts to donate to local communities, organizations, and hospitals. We are proud to have participated and to give back to Rutgers and the local community this holiday season."