Like most of the runners who participated in the recent St. Jude’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Jared Mannen started preparing for the event months in advance. But Mannen wasn’t running in the race; he was volunteering.
Mannen, who graduated from Trevecca on Saturday with a degree in exercise science, was one of 17 Trevecca exercise science students who served as volunteers for the annual race, held April 27. Mannen served as the Trevecca volunteer coordinator.
“Dr. Aaron Hall, one of our exercise science professors, was the one who asked me to organize the volunteer efforts this year,” Mannen said. “He’s volunteered in the past, and he always encourages students to participate. I heard about this event through him.”
With some 30,000 people ranging in age from 12-95 participating in the race, volunteers were a necessary part of ensuring the event went off without a hitch. In order to have enough volunteers, Mannen had to start recruiting long before the race.
“It wasn’t easy to get people to commit to volunteering three to four months in advance, and it doesn’t help that we had to be there at 5:30 a.m.,” he said. “It was difficult getting people to sign up for it and register online, but I expect that everyone [saw] how enjoyable it is to volunteer for a good cause in your city.”
Volunteers for the marathon had the job to set up tables with Gatorade and water to hand out to runners as they passed by. Furthermore, volunteers also served as encouragement for participants of the marathon.
“We noticed some of the runners had their name along with their numbers, and we would shout words of encouragement,” said Adabelle Recarte, a graduating pre-physical therapy student, who joined Mannen in volunteering for the event. “We could see how grateful people were when we handed them water and shouted at them to keep going.”
As a pre-physical therapy student, Recarte says she was excited to see so many people being active and taking part in the race.
“We get so caught up in academics as students, that we forget to take care of ourselves in all walks of our lives,” she said. “I saw many familiar faces of Trevecca alumni, and it was beautiful to see people coming together for something good. It was empowering and beautiful to see the diversity.”
Recarte was grateful to be encouraged to part of this experience by Hall and to serve under Mannen, as well as see Trevecca’s mission at work.
“Jared did such a great job, and although it got chaotic at times, he rolled with it and he kept us sane,” she said “Dr. Hall, too, I’m glad that he understands how important it is for us to see others loving their bodies and be outside enjoying life and moving—something we sometimes take for granted.”
For Recarte, volunteering for the race was a rewarding experience—one she hopes other Trevecca students will take advantage of in the future.
“I would encourage others to volunteer and get involved,” she said. “Serving can be fun, that is such a Trevecca thing to say, but it is true that it’s gratifying to be part of something so large and make a great impact with something so small as handing someone a cup of water.”