Junior Ashwin Rohatgi manages the Run to Feed the Hungry table at Open House. (Photo by Hermione Xian)

New Run to Feed the Hungry student leader coordinates with parents, faculty for Thanksgiving day race

Country Day has participated in the Run to Feed the Hungry for the past 13 years, consistently placing as the top fundraiser. Last year, the team raised $11,350, placing first for the 11th time. 

After former student team leader Luca Procida graduated in June, junior Ashwin Rohatgi replaced him.

The run takes place on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 28, near California State University, Sacramento, and consists of either a 10-kilometer run or a 5K run/walk. The 10K starts at 8:15 a.m., and the 5K begins at 9 a.m. 

According to assistant head of school Tucker Foehl, the adviser of the Run to Feed the Hungry team since 2014, community members can participate in Run to Feed the Hungry either by running or by donating. Donations are collected by the school and go to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. In addition, every dollar donated will be matched with $10 of corporate support. 

As of Nov. 7, Country Day had raised almost $3,200. The team hopes to raise $10,000 by the day of the run and already has 83 participants.

In previous years, Procida and his parents, Christy and John Procida, organized Country Day’s participation along with Foehl. The Procidas’ efforts were instrumental to the success of the team, according to Foehl.

After Procida graduated, Rohatgi informed Foehl that he was interested in the position. 

“I decided to become (the student leader) because it helps someone in need,” Rohatgi said. “I did (Run to Feed the Hungry) last year, so I might as well do it again this year. I don’t mind if I have a bit of extra organizing to do.”

Rohatgi is responsible for organizing the team shirts, giving out flyers, persuading people to donate and recruiting participants and volunteers to help organize the event. 

Of these tasks, Rohatgi said the hardest is to persuade people to participate in the run. 

“Most people want to keep their Thanksgivings family-related,” Rohatgi said. “Many don’t want to run unless they do it as a family tradition.”

Rohatgi plans to utilize parents to gain participants and raise funds by coordinating with the Parents’ Association.

Rohatgi said he enjoys organizing students to participate in the race. 

“As the student leader, I’m more directly helping the homeless as opposed to just being on the team,” Rohatgi said. “Now I’m trying to get others to also join the team so we can help more.”

As the new team captain, Rohatgi said he plans to make some improvements.

“Luca didn’t really use flyers last year, so I think using (them) will make it easier for people to join,” Rohatgi said. “Lower school and middle school don’t have Monday morning meetings. Instead, they have town hall meetings, (which go by a different schedule) and make it harder for me to make an announcement.”

Rohatgi said he plans to distribute flyers to the lower and middle schools earlier next year.

“Everybody knows about (Run to Feed the Hungry) in high school, but I’m not so sure for middle school and lower school,” Rohatgi said. “When you take a look at the race roster, you see mostly high schoolers.”

Rohatgi has begun to coordinate with head of lower school Christy Vail about persuading those students to participate. In addition, Rohatgi plans to pass out flyers to parents in the parking lot.

Rohatgi said he also planned to host a bake sale to raise funds but didn’t have enough time.

“Next year, I’ll definitely have time for a bake sale, which would be a great way to raise money for the team,” he said.

Foehl said he hopes the team remains stable through the transition.

“The Procida family was so involved and so instrumental in the success of Country Day’s Run to Feed the Hungry team,” Foehl said. “What’s most important is making sure that we go through this transition and still maintain a healthy team and a strong commitment to the run and the Sacramento Food Bank.”

—By Ming Zhu

Originally published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Octagon.

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