Braveheart runners support infant with Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome

By Chris Lee

Aggie BluePrint


A large group of people waited patiently behind an orange line on the sidewalk next to the HPER building. They faced forward with white signs attached to their chests, waiting for the signal. With the push of a button, a siren yelled from a megaphone and the crowd surged forward to run in the second-annual Braveheart charity race.

Like many 5 km or 10 km races, Braveheart was a race with a goal in mind other than good exercise. Sponsored by USU’s 860th Cadet Wing, Arnold Air Society, and USU’s Army ROTC, the March 31 race is put on each year to raise money for a worthy cause. This year all the proceeds went to baby Aliya Haslam, a local infant with Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome.

Tarasha Haslam, Aliya’s mother, said she was grateful for the race because it let the community learn what Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome is. Haslam said the syndrome is caused by the deletion of the fourth chromosome and can have variable symptoms.

“We hope she’s around forever,” Haslam said. “There’s no life expectancy. All the kids who have Wolf-Hirschorn are variable, like their symptoms, the different conditions they have. I talked to a lady and her daughter’s in college, she’s 19 and in college, but she doesn’t have a lot of the medical conditions that Aliya has.”

USU student and race coordinator Jay Goold said the race raised around $3,000 to help baby Aliya.

Political science major and race coordinator Jared Stewart said the race was successful because it was for a good cause.

“The biggest thing that draws people is the cause,” Stewart said. “In the past two years, I think we’ve had some really successful races because it’s for a really important cause.”

Stewart said this race in particular is successful because it isn’t raising money for a club or a student, but for a baby in need.

Mitcheal Cooksey, assistant professor for aerospace studies, helps with the race by advising the student race coordinators. This race is so successful because people in the community connect with the cause, he said.

“A lot of people come because they are friends of the people that we’re helping,” Cooksey said. “That’s really the intent, to get people to inspire other people to serve each other in their own communities, to become a better neighbor, and that’s why I think people get involved.”

Raising money for a cause isn’t the only reason people run races. Although most participants said they are running to help baby Aliya, many of them said there are other benefits as well.

“I heard about the 5K in one of my classes and I thought it was for a good cause,” USU student Kelly Scipert said. “I’m training for a half marathon for the summer, so it’s a good way to keep doing that training.”

Scipert said she is trying to run as many 5 km and 10 km races as she can for her training. Many serious runners are attracted to events like the Braveheart race because they have to run that many miles anyway, and the race is a fun way to train while supporting a good cause, she said.

Christopher Barron is the race coordinator for another race series on campus, the Big Blue Race Series, which has held events over the past three years, including 5 km to 10 km races and triathlons. Racing is popular because it’s good, inexpensive exercise, Barron said.

“You don’t have to buy a personal trainer, you can go strap on some shoes and go work out yourself,” Barron said. “The idea of getting outside and exercising, either with your friends or by yourself, has become widely popular. As we get more stressed in our jobs and as the economy goes downhill, we need to make sure that our personal health is No. 1.”

The Big Blue Race series has had 284 participants so far this year, Barron said. The next race in the series will be April 28, where he expects upwards of 200 participants.

Organizing a race like Braveheart or the Big Blue Race Series is a bit more complicated than simply painting a line on the ground and yelling “go.” For the Braveheart charity race, Goold said there were approximately 45 volunteers on race day with more than 200 total hours spent on accomplishing the charity event.

Planning the race was split into three parts: donations, advertising and race day Steward said. There were people in charge of seeking out donations from local businesses, a group assigned to get the word out with flyers and social media and another group was in charge of race day.

Stewart said volunteers helped on race day by directing runners with orange cones, giving out water, stuffing race bags and timing the race. The USU women’s rugby team also helped by handling registration.

The first runner crossed the finish line 17 minutes and 54 seconds after the siren yelled, Goold said. As runner after runner finished, many participants sat or stood on the grass to catch their breath and stretch in the Logan morning sun while other runners continued running a second lap to complete a 10 km course.

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