UI soph to race mopeds for cancer patients


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While University of Iowa sophomore Zac Builta walked to classes one day last summer, the sheer number of mopeds on campus struck him. Suddenly, he came up with the idea of using those scooters to benefit his passion: helping kids with cancer.

"There are so many mopeds cruising around Iowa City, it seems like it is the main mode of transportation for students," he said. "One day, I saw four or five people on mopeds, just some friends cruising around together. I got the idea, what if there were 1,000 people out cruising around. It seemed like a fun way to get students involved working for a good cause."

Builta formed Peds 4 Peds, a student organization that raises money through moped races to help children battle cancer.

Builta, a double major in biochemistry and neurobiology, plans to go to medical school after earning an undergraduate degree. When the 19-year-old isn't studying, he volunteers at the UI Hospitals and Clinics Pediatrics Center.

"[His drive] is unmatched," said Nathan Kibby, a member of Peds 4 Peds. "He volunteers, he goes to class, volunteers at the hospitals, and on top of that, he leads our organization. He has a lot on his plate, but he manages it pretty well."

The organization's major event will be a moped race through Iowa City. The group hopes to hold the first race this spring 2012.

Since coming up with Peds 4 Peds, Builta has turned his idea into an operation involving nearly 20 people, and it's growing quickly. The organization's growth is partially attributed to Lauren Davies, the head of recruitment, who said Builta's work ethic is inspiring.

"He definitely encourages us to work and helps us along the way. He's really driven and I like that about him," she said.

Peds 4 Peds has been working with Iowa City and the UI to organize the race for the spring. Builta said there will be stops along the route with different activities, including musical performances and bake sales. He also said that if participants don't have mopeds, it's not a problem. There will also be options to run, walk, or bicycle.

Though his organization is still in the start-up phase, Builta said he sees a bright future.

"What I would like to see is it to grow a life of its own, to continue at the university years after I'm gone," he said. "I want it to be something that can continue every year and support the hospitals."

Builta has participated with Dance Marathon, another group at the UI that raises money for pediatric cancer patients. Last year, Dance Marathon raised more than $1.2 million, surpassing the $1 million mark for the fourth time. Builta said he hopes Peds 4 Peds will collaborate with the successful organization in the future.

"I would love to see [Peds 4 Peds] become as large as or partner with Dance Marathon," Builta said. "Dance Marathon does such a wonderful thing. I would love to have people from across the state to come and race to help children."

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