UI Doc Dash 5K raises funds to help underprivileged with healthcare


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Dogs pull at their leashes, an elderly couple begins stretching, and people gather in groups, laughing and chatting. The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Doc Dash 5K was about to begin. And this year, organizers hoped to diversify the race by reaching out to children with incentives such as medals.

The Doc Dash has existed for roughly 25 years but has only been open to the public for the past two years. The race took place April 6, and roughly 500 participants raised money for the UI Mobile Clinic and the Iowa City Free Clinic.

“It gets the community involved and helps people become more aware,” said Robert Ingram, the race coordinator. “It also helps the underprivileged population. Our goal for next year is to have even more participants.”

Doc Dash officials said they hoped to reach out to more children this year.

“We tried to make it a little more open for youth,” said Michael Takacs, a UI clinical associate professor of emergency medicine. “It’s a good cause, and it promotes healthy kids, having fun and running with their parents.”

Twelve-year-old Stephan Vera of Engelton, Texas, came to the race to spend time with his sister, who is a UI medical student and run in the 5K.

“I’m excited; it’s a fun event,” Vera said of his first year at the Doc Dash.

Fourth-year medical student Chloe Mellecker has been involved with the race for the past three years. As a medical student, she emphasized the importance of a healthy lifestyle for children.

“It’s always important to stay active, and if it takes a medal to encourage kids, it’s a small price to pay,” she said.

The Doc Dash’s larger goal remains raising funds to help underprivileged people with health care.

Mike Catney, a nurse at the Free Medical Clinic, said the 5K has raised thousands of dollars for the organizations over the years and offered help in other ways as well.

“They do raise quite a bit for our clinic,” he said. “We get support through other ways like United Way and Johnson County, but they bring a great deal, and it’s very much appreciated. Many of the medical students offer their time and volunteer at the clinic, and without that, it probably wouldn’t be possible to run the clinic.”

The UI Psychiatry Department has supported the race for the past two years, winning the award in 2012 and 2011 for having the most participants.

“[Health care in Iowa City] is incredibly important, and obviously not everyone has health care. The Free Medical Clinic and the mobile clinic are both important parts of health care,” said UI psychiatry professor David Moser.

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