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Running Dead

By Alyssa Seidman
Contributing Writer

8:30 a.m. Slam. Overturned tables hit the lobby floor of Riggs Hall. The facilities crew takes direction from Arianna Livreri, the campus life coordinator in charge of the school’s first annual Rundead event, which took place on April 1.

A fog settles outside as rain continues to drip steadfastly from the eerie gray sky. It’s like a horror movie, almost perfect for the day’s event – almost. What was originally supposed to be a campus-wide run has been moved, confined into the tight four corners of Riggs.

Photo Khadijah Swann
Photo Khadijah Swann

Some questioned how this would happen; a race throughout the residence hall? Hard to imagine if it weren’t for a similar event – Riggspocolypse – the RA’s hosted a few semesters before. Using the template from the zombie survival-style program, Livreri and her team were able to restructure their run to fit alongside dorm rooms and residents.

The lounge area on the second floor is buzzing with eager volunteers who have been transformed by way of cheap party store makeup. They socialize in little packs, discussing the week’s homework or the plans for the following night, looking passed the fake, bloodied gashes and alien contacts floating in their eyes. Their task: chase and intimidate registered runners as they sprint for the finish line.

A speaker reigns in the organized chaos minutes before the race begins; he introduces the event’s honoree: a Special Olympics athlete from Patchogue. “I would like to thank you all for coming today and enjoying the fun,” said Matthew Schuster, an athlete with Down syndrome who has been participating in the Special Olympics since the age of five.

Schuster expressed the pride he held in his heart for Post in hosting Rundead and helping a cause that directly affects him. “This event is helping Special Olympic athletes to play sports and meet some other friends,” Schuster said. “It helps the Special Olympics get more equipment and volunteers at the games.”

Schuster, who plays softball, golf, swimming and basketball at the games, is one of the many athletes who have benefited from fundraising efforts by Phi Sigma Kappa (PSK) fraternity, one of the co-sponsors of Rundead. The fraternity’s national philanthropy is Special Olympics; on average, the national organization raises more than $75,000 and serves over 13,000 volunteer hours annually for the cause.

Photo Khadijah Swann
Photo Khadijah Swann

Through contributions from the fraternity, runner registration and outside donors, Rundead was able to raise over $1,000 this year to send athletes like Schuster to the Special Olympic games.

“This event was special for us because we were able to bring our whole campus together for our cause,” said Nicholas Sieban, a sophomore adolescent education major and director of programming for PSK. “The reason I joined Greek Life was to become more involved with community service and philanthropy, and this event has made that goal come true.”

Carlos Abreu, a senior marketing major and philanthropy chair for PSK, said the fraternity’s camaraderie around the cause was a deciding factor for him when he was accepting bids last fall. “They were always so passionate and put together, and we always work together; we’re always involved in everything we do.”

The air was tense as runners took their mark at the starting line. In groups of five they poised into pre-running stances, each one unique and energized, chests beating to the rhythm of adrenaline. Horror movie music blared from the DJ booth, and the whistle sounded, sending the pack bursting through double doors that racked against the cinderblock walls upon impact. The racers dodged out of the way of zombies who grabbed greedily at the yellow flags strapped to their belts. Five minutes passed and runners returned to the lobby, the look of relief reaching their faces that were drowned in beads of sweat.

A wave of applause, high-fives and shouts of victory played in the foreground among the “Thriller” tune as each participant congratulated their fellow survivors: they evaded the running dead.

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