Philip Sparn | Perspectives Editor

The 16th annual Homecoming 5K Run, held on Saturday, Oct. 27, was the first Run to be held at the Pace Alumni Center at Emerald Hill, home of APSU’s National Alumni Association.

“The APSU National Alumni Association serves as the primary organization for all APSU alumni,” said Nikki Peterson, director of Alumni Relations.

“The purpose and mission of the APSU National Alumni Association is to facilitate the lifetime connection of alumni, students, and friends with APSU.”

Peterson said the association is meant to encourage participation and continue to strengthen the bond between the university and its alumni. She also said it helps promote the general welfare of APSU, the student body, faculty, administration and alumni.

There are a number of different sponsors for the event. “Sponsors provide monetary or in kind donations for the event,” said Tonya Leszczak, the Alumni relations coordinator and 5K coordinator.

Leszczak said sponsors for this year’s event included the National Alumni Association, APSU University Recreation and local businesses such as Mizuno, Chartwells, Cumberland Bank & Trust and Premier Medical Group.

There are also different levels of sponsorship: gold, silver, and bronze.

According to Leszczak, last year there were a total of 135 participants, whereas the previous year had only 85 participants.

“The money goes towards scholarships for student-athletes on the track and cross-country teams,” said Doug Molnar, head coach of cross country and track and field.

“We currently have less than the NCAA maximum amount of allowable scholarships, so this allows us to help out those athletes in real need,” Molnar said.

Molnar said they tend to have a very socio-economically diverse group of students, and so many of them have legitimate need for the money. “Usually, we use the money to help the students with unforeseen emergencies,” Molnar said.

For example, Molnar said they had a young female student whose parents had lost their jobs, and so they helped her out with purchasing books and granting her a small stipend for her summer school. More recently, a former student-athlete of Molnar’s contacted him about coming back to finish his degree.

The student left the university four years ago, and is only three classes away from finishing.

“We have had others that have needed a class in the summer to graduate or to stay on track, and we have helped them out,” Molnar said.