5k raises thousands for Cougar Health Fund

Money from sponsors, registration fees go to mental health, sexual assault prevention

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman and WSU communities raised about $4,250 in the Cougar Courage 5k for an endowment that funds sexual assault prevention and mental health awareness.

The 5k, which 125 participants completed in about 30 minutes, started and ended at the WSU Outdoor Recreation Center on Sunday morning.

Former ASWSU Vice President Garrett Kalt, who helped organize the event, said the name of the 5k intended to raise awareness of sexual assault and mental health issues on campus.

“Courage is a word that doesn’t get thought about a lot,” Kalt said, “but you do have to have a lot of courage to have these difficult conversations and continue to advocate for them.”

The funds raised at the 5k and from sponsors will go to the  Cougar Health Fund, a student-driven endowment, which will help students to have conversations related to these issues.

Kalt said the event was a fun way for the community to get involved before the school year comes to a close.

“I think that almost every Coug experiences mental health [issues] or sexual assault in their life,” Kalt said. “Whether that’s them personally or because of a friend, I think it affects all of us and it affects our community.”

ASWSU organized the run over the course of three weeks with the help of a 12-person fundraising team.

Kalt said the funds would go toward any program, event or engagement piece that falls in line with mental health or sexual assault awareness.

“Any student [or student group] can apply to receive some of the funds,” Kalt said. “For instance, say you want to bring a speaker to campus or have this big awareness week. You would be able to apply for funds to get materials or people for your event.”

Fundraising team member Hannah Basler said she was excited to help out as a freshman and lead the direction of the endowment for the upcoming year.

“This event is a fun way to get people talking,” Basler said, “like breaking that taboo and talking about issues that might be hard to talk about.”

The endowment was launched at the end of March, Kalt said, with the Cougar Courage 5k as one of the first events used to fundraise for the Cougar Health Fund.

Outside of what they raised during the 5k, Kalt said the team received $2,000 from their sponsors, WSU Panhellenic Council and the WSU Interfraternity Council and about $1,000 from outside donors.

Each 5k participant paid $10 to register with all proceeds going directly to the Cougar Health Fund. They also received T-shirts for attending, which were all donated by College Hill Custom Threads.

As a participant of Cougar Courage, junior mechanical engineering major Kiera Rust said she signed up for the event with the hope of reducing the stigma around mental health issues and sexual assault.

“It’s important that we’re changing things here,” Rust said. “I’m hoping to see conversation. A lot of people don’t talk about sexual assault on campus. It’s important to get that conversation going right away.”