By Lily Boe
Amidst the excitement of Homecoming Weekend, the University’s chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania teamed up with the Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Foundation to host the ninth annual Dream for Eileen 5K. This past Saturday, Oct.27, roughly 60 runners took their marks in the morning and prepared to run all over campus for this special cause.
The event is held every year in honor of University College of Nursing graduate Eileen Lupton, who passed away in a tragic Chicago roof collapse in 2003. The money, which is raised from donations and a registration fee, supports the Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Scholarship fund. Each year, the administration of nursing picks a student with high academic performance, supreme extra-curricular involvement, exceptional service and financial need to receive the scholarship.
This year, senior nursing students Marie McClure and Shawn Pettit coordinated the event. McClure and Pettit are SNAP’s special projects co-chairs. McClure says she certainly feels passionate about the event. She actually has run in the 5K every year until this one, when she took charge.
“I’ve done it every year, so I was really excited to do the behind the scenes work and organize it,” McClure says.
The Dream for Eileen 5K would not have been made possible without the help of SNAP. SNAP’s president, senior Ashleigh Morris, says the University’s chapter of SNAP is the most outstanding in the state, and has been this way for three years now. Morris notes that SNAP is one of the most nationally recognized organizations on campus. It is primarily a volunteer organization and has bi-weekly meetings. According to Pettit, he and McClure both thoroughly enjoyed how their role in SNAP allowed them to play such a chief part in this year’s Dream for Eileen 5K.
“We both like to organize special events,” he shares. “There is no event, however, quite as special as the Dream for Eileen 5K.”
“It’s a very unique activity that we love doing,” McClure adds.
Each year, the run takes place on Homecoming Weekend, with the expectation being that alumni are in the area and are interested participating in the event.
“A lot of people are here because they knew Eileen,” McClure explains.
Friends and former classmates are not the only ones who come out for this special event, however. Every year, Lupton’s parents, as well as a number of other family members, come in support of the event.
The Lupton family hosts another run every year back at their home in Lake Forest. According to Patrick Lupton, Eileen’s father, it just felt “natural” to bring the event here to the University as well.
This year, the Dream for Eileen 5K event raised nearly $500 in donations. In addition, Lupton’s father has received some generous checks in the mail, including a $10,000 donation from Walgreens, as well as another $10,000 from Kristen Mills from Medline. He recalls writing letters to these groups, unsure and anxious about the feedback he would receive. However, just two days after writing the letters, the checks came, along with messages. According to him, both organizations praised the event, deeming it “a beautiful way for Eileen to stay alive.”
Lupton’s father wholeheartedly agrees with the donors’ opinions on the event. “It keeps Eileen alive in a special way,” he says with a smile.
The event has now produced nine scholarships, and the amount has increased every year. Lupton says he finds comfort in thinking about how the event has financially assisted several nurses in their endeavors to do “all the great things that nurses do.”
This year’s race saw a number of highly dedicated and motivated participants. Lauren Gianoni of the BSN-express program took first place for women in the race. Gianoni was inspired to participate because she viewed the event as a thoughtful way to give back.
“I’m a nursing student, so it felt like a good cause,” Gianoni says. “And I love running.”
For nine years now, the Dream for Eileen 5K has remained a popular event on campus that inspires both current students and alumni alike. Essentially, the event has created a great cause that stemmed from what was a horrible tragedy for the Lupton family.
“It has become a way of transforming a horrid negative into a positive,” Lupton’s father says.