Dave Sanfilippo started off the first annual “Move a Mile in Our Shoes” fun walk by rolling through a red ribbon in his wheelchair as dozens of participants walked, ran and wheeled close behind.
Nearly 50 participants and Sanfilippo, the director of Disabled Student Services, came out to support the scholarship fundraiser on Friday, along with 70 donors. Participants joined by completing a mile at the Cal State Long Beach track as loud music fueled their trek. The event raised over $6,000 for the program’s student scholarships, which will support more than 1,900 students.
Amber Maurer, learning disability assessment assistant and disability management counselor, explained that the goal of the event was to raise awareness, and the donations and pledges followed suit.
“Our students work very hard despite the challenges that they have to face,” Maurer said. “Our students actually have higher GPAs at graduation than the general population, and they graduate at a higher rate than the general population. We are very proud of them, so the event is to support our students.”
The campus spirit team and the program’s emotional support dog, encouraged participants as they finished their miles on the hot October day. The fun walk also brought members of all communities together from Greek life and campus police to local veterans.
Before the race began, Victor Roman, a senior marketing major, spoke at the event about his experience in disabled students services. He relayed how they helped get his life back on track after losing his job and his good grades when his health drastically declined a few years ago.
“The DSS community has really supported me throughout some of the difficult times,” Roman said. “This event is beneficial because I am one story of many. I speak with a lot of my peers, and I see them struggle with a lot of things that I went through and the scholarship helps us be on track with our educational goals.”
Accessible Instructional Materials Center, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support Services, the Workability IV Program and the Student Health Services all came out in support. Each program had its own booth with posters and handouts explaining what they do.
“We’ve done awareness programs before, and we thought to do it a little differently this time and talk more about our services,” Sanfilippo said. “We wanted people to be here and let people feel like they were participating in working with and helping us.”
Participants registered received a shirt at the event priced at $20 for students and $25 for faculty and staff. At the end of the race, raffle prizes were given out, as well as gift baskets for the team and individual that raised the most money.
Maria Tripodi, a senior film production management major, has benefitted from the program for the past four years. She decided to get several girls in her sorority Delta Gamma to help support the fundraiser this year. Tripodi explained that several services that she utilizes through the university are from the program, and they even paired her with an organization that pays for her tuition.
“It was important for me to bring [my sorority sisters,] because they are my support outside of DSS, so to have them come out meant a lot because this is an organization that I really want to give back to,” Tripodi said. “Finding a way and having a group of girls who wanted to do it with me just makes me feel amazing.”
Correction: this article has been updated to name the event “Move a Mile in Our Shoes.”