The fourth annual Rainbow Run, hosted by the LGBTQ+ Center on Oct. 4, raised money for their emergency fund to help those in need. 

Volunteers, alumni, students and several others attended the event to support the LGBTQ+ community and the emergency fund. 

Senior visual communication design major Stephen Francis is a returning participant of the Rainbow Run. He came to the event to support his community and give back.

“I just love seeing all these lovely people come together from all campuses,” Francis said. “Geauga is here and a couple of other campuses from Kent being in one area is really cool to see the community come together.” 

Kent State alumni Emerson Pelton is also a returning runner of the Rainbow Run. He came to reunite with the community he was a part of last year.

“I actually ran in it last year for the first time and it's a great community where everyone gets together and supports the LGBTQ+ community,” Pelton said.

Marcus Molina is a sophomore visual communication design major and a second-year intern at the LGBTQ+ Center who volunteered for the first time at the Rainbow Run.

“I think the main reason why I wanted to volunteer today is because of the emergency fund at the LGBTQ+ Center that helps people within the community or even outside of the community who are allies that need help and support financially,” Molina said. “I know people in the community have a little bit of extra struggles when it comes to financials.” 

Assistant Director of the LGBTQ+ Center Katie Mattise described the Rainbow Run as, “a 5K that you can run, walk or roll where proceeds get donated toward the LGBTQ+ emergency fund. The run is actually a glow run. So as you go throughout campus, you get different glow items to wear and add to the collection. So by the end, you are literally glowing with pride.”

Francis is passionate about this funding and believes “you need to come out and support this because there are so many people in need, especially through the emergency fund.”

The Director of the LGBTQ+ Center Ken Ditlevson gave anonymous examples of students who used the emergency fund before the run began. This made Francis think about his own life while participating in the Rainbow Run. 

“Ken was talking at the beginning about how someone was dropped off with a suitcase and was literally told, 'don't come home, you are not welcome anymore.’ I could not imagine my parents being like, ‘yeah by the way we are not going to support you anymore,’” Francis said. 

Mattise has seen students in need of the emergency fund at the university level. 

“We see students who after their family finds out they are a part of the community, they cut off financial assistant, cut off contacts,” Mattise said. “That is one way we as a Kent State family can wrap our arms around and say, ‘we got you.’ Also, in a majority of Ohio, you can be fired for being LGBTQ+ so that can be pretty hard to get a job if you are a part of the community.”

Mattise explained the emergency funds go directly to the students in different forms.

“(The money) goes directly to the students,” she said. “It can go in either a Bursar account, toward tuition, toward counseling, toward doctor’s appointments, toward rent and it can also be in the form of a bookstore scholarship if folks know they need it for just books.” 

This will not be the final Rainbow Run for the LGBTQ+ Center, so people can still get involved in years to come. 

“Even if people are not participating this year, they should still come because we are going to do this next year,” Mattise said.

Contact Katia Rodriguez at krodri14@kent.edu.

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