Sunday, April 17, 2011

Runners, walkers raise funds for Japan Disaster Relief

By Michele Bourdieu

During the April 16 Walk / Run for Japan, Aram Kim of South Korea, a Michigan Tech student in mechanical engineering, volunteers as a safety monitor -- sometimes running in place herself to keep warm -- as a runner dashes by on the wet pavement near College Avenue in Houghton. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Despite the wet snow and rain that fell on the Houghton area Saturday morning, about 35 intrepid participants and 30 volunteers showed up on the Michigan Tech campus for the April 16 Walk/Run for Japan.

Airi Natsumushi, right, of Japan, a student at Finlandia University, and artist Pamela Kotila, a graduate of Finlandia's International School of Art and Design, return from downtown Houghton to the Michigan Tech campus during the 5K Run last Saturday.

Slushy sidewalks and streets from the campus to downtown Houghton didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the 5K runners and 3K walkers who donated their energy and money to American Red Cross disaster relief for those who have suffered from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor incidents in Japan.

A message written on the back of Airi Natsumushi's shirt asks for prayers. Her outfit was designed by her mother, who is a fashion designer in Japan.

Michigan Tech student Rui Pan of China gives a victory sign as he rounds a curve with other runners heading back to campus during the 5K Run for Japan.

According to Kazuya Tajiri, Michigan Tech assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and organizer of the event, volunteers from several organizations participated:
- Houghton High School Key Club
- Michigan Tech Japanese Conversation Club
- Michigan Tech Korean Student Association
- International Students from Finlandia University
- Michigan Tech Air Force ROTC program.

Houghton High School Key Club members, from left, Cassie Van Dam, Salina Zhang, and Katie Naber volunteer for the Walk/Run. The Key Club members also sold t-shirts at the fundraising event. Cassie Van Dam's mom, Finlandia Professor Suzanne Van Dam, was volunteer organizer for the Walk /Run.

"We had many supporters who could not show up for the event but donated money," Prof. Tajiri added.

Michigan Tech Professor Kazuya Tajiri, center, organizer of the Walk / Run, is pictured here with volunteers Ryan Towles, right, academic adviser, and James Walker, Michigan Tech graduate student in computer science.

After the Walk / Run, some participants gathered in the lobby of the Walker Building for a light snack and group photos.

Walk / Run participants and volunteers gather in the lobby of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center for a group photo. In the foreground, holding Professor Tajiri's son, Yamato Tajiri, is Motoyuki "Moto" Kidokoro, Michigan Tech accounting major, who helped organize the Walk / Run. Not pictured, but assisting with the activity, is Momoko Tajiri, Professor Tajiri's wife.

Michigan Tech Professor Kazuya Tajiri, organizer of the Walk / Run, with his son, Yamato Tajiri. The Tajiri family arrived at Michigan Tech last August. They are from Kumamoto in southern Japan.

In addition to Michigan Tech and Finlandia, the following community organizations helped support the Walk / Run: City of Houghton; Michigan Tech Athletics and Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education Department; Houghton High School; the Rozsa Center; Monte Consulting; American Red Cross, Superior Upper Peninsula Chapter; Family Dollar; and Walmart.

Note: Anyone wishing to donate to Japanese Disaster Relief can send a check made payable to the American Red Cross to JDRF, c/o Kazuya Tajiri, 1400 Townsend Drive, 815 ME-EM Building, Houghton, MI 49931.

"We will take it to the Red Cross office," Professor Tajiri said. "Of course the check can also be sent directly to the American Red Cross, but in this case the sender has to clearly state the money should be used for Japanese Disaster Relief," he explained.

The Red Cross also accepts online donations.

More photos ...

Volunteer Aram Kim of South Korea with Karen Bess of Chelsea, Mich., and her dog, Macha. Both Kim and Bess are studying mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech.

More volunteers! Working with Aram Kim, right, are Michigan Tech students Brittney Szabo, left, an Air Force ROTC student, and C. J. Yang of South Korea.

The Web site announcing the Walk / Run lists 11,600 lives lost, 17,000 homes lost, and 492,000 evacuated because of the Japan disaster.

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