“A Challenge Like No Other” – Planning a Virtual 5K Amid COVID-19

Last year, as COVID-19 quickly made its way across the United States, many schools and universities canceled in-person events and moved to distance learning. This brought with it a new set of challenges to physical therapy and physical therapy assistant students – both personally and professionally. However, several schools were able to move forward with fundraising events as part of the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research’s (FPTR) Marquette Challenge by shifting to a virtual format.

Rising to the Challenge

The annual “Race for Research” has become a tradition for the Department of Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. This year, students encouraged people to participate in the “Virtual Run for Research.”

“Planning was easy,” said Alex Dalley, DPT, Challenge coordinator at Washington University. “We were already planning a normal 5k and started registration. Once COVID-19 hit, we were able to switch things over pretty easily.”

While keeping the original event date, they updated the “Race for Research” page to advertise a virtual 5k run or walk, open to anyone eager to participate. To create a sense of togetherness during a time of social distancing, Wash U created the #JustKeepRunningRFR hashtag and designed and sold t-shirts.

“I think we received even more participation than the normal 5k because people liked the idea of an ‘event’ and a feeling of community when we were in the midst of lockdown orders,” said Dalley. “There wasn’t a ton to it and it just came together so easily.”

In light of the obstacles the fundraising schools will face in the 2020-2021 VCU-Marquette Challenge, FPTR is conducting monthly live events and providing additional resources to help students stay connected with their programs, their fellow students, and the research that will keep their profession moving forward. Visit marquettechallenge.com to learn more.

Funds raised in the 2019-2020 VCU-Marquette Challenge – such as those raised in the “Virtual Race for Research” – will be counted towards 2020-2021 school totals.


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