A 5K run held Sunday on the UA Mall raised nearly $5,000 to benefit a student in the College of Medicine who was diagnosed with lung cancer in September.
The student, Derek Neal, was admitted to the hospital with what doctors initially thought was pancreatitis. Doctors gave Neal four months to live, but he has surpassed their expectations.
Benjamin Kwittken, one of Neal’s classmates in the College of Medicine, said Neal “never smoked a day in his life,” and that Kwittken and his classmates have done what they can to help Neal’s family.
“Since his diagnosis, our class and other people in the community have come together and tried to help him and help out his family any way we could,” Kwittken said.
The 5K run was a central part of that, and Kwittken said that $4,900 been collected by the end of the race. All proceeds will go to benefit Neal and his family.
Mustafa Fermawi, a physiology senior and a roommate of one of Neal’s friends, said he came to the run to support Neal and to help him and his family out.
Travis Burkel, an animal science senior and member of the TriCats triathlon team who won first place in the run, also came specificallt to support Neal.
“Our coach brought it up to us that it was going on, and the whole TriCat team decided it would be a good idea to come on out and support, have fun and get to race, and hang out with the community,” Burkel said.
The six winners of the run received $50 gift cards to a runners’ site and several local restaurants including Opa Greek Cuisine and Fun, Tavolino, Ristorante Italiano, and Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen.
The races were categorized by men and women. Aubri Carman, a first-year student in the College of Medicine won the women’s race, and TriCats member Travis Berkow won the men’s.