By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor of “The Bison” Student Newspaper
As winter gives way to spring and the air starts warming up, it’s a great time for students to get active. This April, there’s an opportunity to get the blood pumping while helping a worthwhile cause.
The second annual Spero Sprint will take place April 6 at 8:30 a.m. in the Wheeler District of Oklahoma City. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Spero Project, a non-profit ministry in Oklahoma City dedicated to serving resettled refugees who have come to the OKC area. The event, which includes a competitive 5K certified by USA Track and Field at 9 a.m. and a one mile “fun run” at 8:30 a.m., will be presented for the second year by OBU Enactus, a business club on campus.
“Enactus is a business-focused team on campus that assists small businesses and non-profits around our community for God's glory through entrepreneurship and sustainability,” said Libby Unruh, senior finance major and Enactus president. “It’s like the business-focused mind to help people do sustainable projects that make a lasting imprint.”
In addition to their partnership with The Spero Project, Enactus has been involved in work for the Shawnee community market, as well as a mobile grocery store initiative in the surrounding area.
The goal of the club is to assist these non-profits and businesses in the beginning, but eventually to shift the projects back to them after getting them off the ground. This, for example, will be the last year Enactus plans to host the Spero Sprint, though they still plan to be involved with helping out for sustainability.
“We plan next year to pass it off,” Unruh said. “So next year, we’ll give them everything, give them all the information that we’ve put together, all the contacts, and hope that this is something they can sustain for years to come. That was our ultimate goal, for us to get our hands off of it, to just organize it and get it going.”
Dr. David Houghton, dean of the Dickinson College of Business and faculty advisor for Enactus, is impressed by the way his club pulled the race off.
“The team organized the event from the ground up,” he said. “It’s great to see how a small group of college students can put on such a big event. The success of the Spero Sprint demonstrates the quality and commitment of our OBU Enactus students. It is a fantastic way to tie together all aspects of business in organizing an event like this.”
Tyler Koonce is in charge of the team putting this year’s race together. One aspect he stresses is that its impact is easily seen since the money from the event goes directly to the OKC refugee community.
“Many times in projects where money is raised for something, the end goal or end use of the funds is unclear,” Koonce said. “But with the Spero Sprint, we know where it is going, and that pushes all of us on the team to work even harder as the race day quickly approaches.”
While the turnout for last year’s race was good, Unruh acknowledged that weather played a significant role as it rained heavily all day. This year, Enactus is hoping for clear skies and a bigger impact. Last year, 55 people registered and ran the race, and Unruh is confident the numbers will be bigger this year.
“We’re hoping for over 100 runners,” she said. “150 would be awesome.”
Another change to this year’s race includes more involvement for those people in Oklahoma City that The Spero Project helps.
“We’re going to try to include the refugee community a little bit more this year,” Unruh said. “The kids are going to make posters, some of the refugees will talk, just so the runners and everyone who’s there has a better understanding.”
Presenting the race for a second year, Enactus feels more confident. Rather than starting from scratch, this year they can focus on building on their previous success.
“It’s so much easier the second year, because we’ve made the initial connections,” Unruh said. “The first year, we had no idea what we were doing… it was scrambling to get everything together. This year it was better, because we knew what needed to be done, where to go to get certifications, things like that.”
Also absent from this year’s event is the simple stress of starting something new.
“It’s just kind of risky,” Unruh said. “Once you start paying for the race insurance, the timing company – there’s a lot of expenses that go into a 5K that you don’t even think about… if we didn’t come out profitable, our team was going to have to pay for all of this. It was kind of a big leap [at the time].”
Unruh is quick to point out that it doesn’t require running the race to be involved with the project.
“You do not have to participate in the race to support our new neighbors,” she said. “You can donate funds, purchase a t-shirt, listen to the Spero story, and cheer on the runners.”
Runners can register online at https://okbuenactus.wixsite.com/sperosprint. Registration for the one mile fun run is $25 and for the 5k is $35. Ferris wheel ride tickets will also be available for purchase on the day of the race.