Many of the 1,500 participants at the Eve Carson Memorial 5K for Education on Saturday had never met the former UNC student body president the event is named for.
But afterward, runners said they felt connected to her nonetheless.
“I’ve always wanted to meet Eve Carson,” said freshman Austin Shaw. “Everyone out here in good spirit is the closest thing to that.”
The race was held not only to honor Carson’s life but also to benefit the Eve Marie Carson Memorial Fund, nonprofit First Book and Frank Porter Graham Elementary School in Chapel Hill.
Junior Lauren-Kelly Devine, the race’s co-director, said the race drew nearly 1,500 participants — an increase of about 500 runners from last year — and raised nearly $27,000 from pre-registrations and donations alone.
She said additional money was raised through a silent auction, race-day registrants, a benefit week and the Blank Canvas show.
The race began on Cameron Avenue in front of the Old Well before heading to Franklin Street and South Campus. Runners finished at Polk Place in front of South Building.
Organizers said holding the race in the heart of campus tied it to Carson’s legacy.
“I think keeping her legacy alive is a big part of the event,” said senior Elizabeth Lamb, who helped organize the race.
Two-thirds of the proceeds benefit the Eve Marie Carson Memorial Junior-Year Merit Scholarship. The scholarship was created to honor Carson and her efforts to create a junior-year scholarship before she was shot to death March 5, 2008.
The other third is split between First Book, a nonprofit organization that gives books to preschoolers in low-income families, and the Frank Porter Elementary School for literacy initiatives and technological development.
Carson volunteered at the elementary school as part of the INSPIRE program, which encourages young students to pursue science.
First Book and the elementary school also are the beneficiaries of Pi Beta Phi sorority and Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which sponsored the race.
The event also featured a performance by the Clef Hangers and a message from American Idol contestant Anoop Desai.
Other speakers included members of the UNC community who knew Carson, and Elinor Benami, the first Carson scholar.
Sophomore Alison Coppock said the race preserves Carson’s spirit.
“It continues her legacy, and her dreams live on through it,” Coppock said.
Charlie Hicks, the race’s co-director, said the 5K was successful not only as a race but also as a community event.
“We achieved what we were trying to achieve — an event, not just a 5K,” he said. “We want to take it a step beyond, to continue to build on this event and not lose the legacy of Eve.”
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