By Aaron Newton
As winter quarter 2013 drew to a close, Yakima 19 class leadership began looking for ideas to repeat the 5K run that Yakima 18 had put on the year before. While negotiating dates, logistics, supplies and community support, it quickly became obvious that it would be more advantageous to piggy-back on an existing event rather than create a competing event.
During this search, we discovered the Sage Rat Run (SRR), an event in its fourth year organized by a husband and wife, Mike and Terri Akins and their son Gabe. Classmate Rachel Fisher and I approached them initially to see if we could have a MEDEX tent at the event, an idea they supported. Then we discovered that one of their larger donors, Prosser Medical Health, had been pushing for them to add a 1-Mile Kids Run. Historically, SRR was conceived as more of a community health event than a race, so this idea resonated with us. Additionally, Prosser and its neighboring towns represent the traditional MEDEX PA demographic; rural and medically underserved. They were unfamiliar with us and our role in “improving access to healthcare for all”, presenting an opportunity to reach a new community. SSR agreed to provide everything we would need to put the race on, we just needed to develop a plan. From this, the 1-mile run was born.
The first thing we decided was the medical theme we would use to approach the community. We settled on “Childhood Health and Fitness”. It was an approachable, active message that included the concept of obesity, but only implicitly. In return for our attention to logistics and the health initiative, SRR agreed to provide raffle tickets, MEDEX-specific purple volunteer shirts, technical-fabric event-finisher shirts, medals, timing chips, tents, tables, and marking supplies, all at no cost to us.
As the planning continued, responsibilities were distributed throughout the Yakima class, including some spouses. We originally anticipated between 50-75% class participation. Needless to say, we were excited to have not only more than 90% of our own class involved, but also 4 people from the incoming class who volunteered with us!
On the morning of the event, all Yakima volunteers arrived at the Prosser Chamber of Commerce at 6:30am to make sure we were set up and ready to go by 8:00am. Our location was the common start and finish line for the 5K and the 1-mile run, as well as the finish line for the 12K and the half-marathon. As the morning progressed, race participants and their supporters quickly accumulated at or near our tent. Consequently, the UW School of Medicine and the MEDEX Northwest program developed visibility and community outreach to the 846 participants as well as the estimated 1500-plus supporters.
Through our exuberant classmate Krystle Agtarap, the MEDEX tent provided information on MEDEX Northwest, the role of a PA, education materials on pediatric health and fitness, information on the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), and free vital signs for any curious passer-by. Anthony O’Neel ensured that we provided concurrent event registration support and held a raffle. The raffle resulted in enough money to cover the expenses for both of our AAPA Student Representatives to attend the annual AAPA conference in Washington DC, with money left over to put into our class savings and to contribute toward a larger SRR donation to the Ronald McDonald House and Prosser Police.
Something we’d like to emphasize is just how committed Mike, Terri, and Gabe are to the health of their community. One of the most notable aspects of the finishing medals was a “Courage to Start, Guts to Finish” award that went to the last place finishers of each event within each age/sex category. For many participants, racers would cross the finish line, exhausted and feeling exhilarated by their first-time accomplishments. What a surprise that in addition to the generous 5-inch finishing medal, they also received something extra that acknowledged their extraordinary effort to step out of their comfort zone and try something that could very well save their own lives!
Yakima Class 19 believes that our scope of practice extends beyond the walls of a clinic. We believe that our medical education includes more than just learning to distinguish between ambiguous pathologies or hunting down the obscure disease. Without the human element, our clinical expertise falls flat. We demonstrated our approach to medicine by organizing this event.