Sweet Caroline 5K: Racing and Raising for Cardiac Awareness

Juliana Cirvello, Contributing Writer

South student Caroline Gallagher was known for always having a bright smile on her face. Caroline was a young girl who loved singing and theatre. “She would make friends with anyone she met,” said her brother Jack Gallagher, who is currently a senior at CB South. If he were to describe her in one word, he said it would be “outgoing.”

However, three years ago, Caroline passed away during her sophomore year from sudden cardiac arrest, though not without leaving a mark upon the CB South. In remembrance of her, South started the event known as “The Sweet Caroline 5K.”

The idea of having this 5K race in honor of Caroline originated from Kristen Upton and Devin Nonnenman, who were her friends and fellow members of Caroline’s 2014 graduating class. This 5K is a non-profit race at South that raises awareness for cardiac disease, with all proceeds going directly to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP).

Last year, the participants raised $9,051 to donate to CHOP. This year, their goal is to reach $10,000. To help out with this goal, math teacher Mr. Lake and other South teachers are going to challenge all the students, and for everyone who beats them in the race, they will donate an extra $5.00.

“Even if I get old or hurt, I will still do the event,” said Mr. Lake. “I would just walk, because I think it’s great for the South community  to see all the students and teachers come support the cause together.”

The committee has been working on planning this year’s event since the end of last year because of all the various components of the 5k, ranging from getting CHOP and the school’s initial approval to arranging sponsors for the event. Seniors Jack Gallagher and Adam Daymon note that organizing the 5k consists of “a lot of little things,” such as planning food, registration, t-shirts, volunteers, and meetings.

“This is a great cause because it helps raise awareness and money for something that means a lot to CB South,” Gallagher said.

South senior Shauna Sloms agreed. “It’s a really nice thing to be a part of,” she said, describing it as a “selfless event.”

This year, the event will be held on Sunday, October 26, at CB South’s track. The event opens with all participants walking a mile. Then the 5K run officially begins and the song “Sweet Caroline” will be played. During the event, there will be a DJ playing music by the snack and food table.

Mr. Lake ran the Sweet Caroline 5K in 2013 and said it was “awesome!” He addes that the people lining the entire course all dress in purple because it was Caroline’s favorite color. Towards the finish line, a group of people cheer on all the runners and gather for the awards at the end of the race. The first two runners who finish in every age group are rewarded with prizes.

Gallagher and Daymon describe this event as “positive,” emphasizing how the race turned something tragic into something that is positive. Gallagher said, “It’s very cheerful during the run, but when it’s over, sadness starts to kick in as everyone tells stories about Caroline.” One participant added, “Overall, it’s a good feeling because you know you’re helping out a good cause.”

Sloms says that when she participated in the race, Caroline’s family was “extremely happy that everyone came out to support the event.” Mr. Lake agreed with Sloms and said that “even though [he] didn’t know Caroline personally, [he] knew her brother Jimmy, and they were a good family.”

The Sweet Caroline 5K may only be for a few hours in a day once a year, but the effects of the race are long lasting. Even by just dedicating a few hours in a day once a year to this cause, a huge difference can be made.

“It shows how CB South comes together as a community,” Mr. Lake said. “It’s a great way to give back and remember her.”

To register for the Sweet Caroline 5K, students can visit the registration website, go to the house offices, or sign up in Titan Forum.