On Sunday, March 25, beginning at 2 p.m., the Fairmont State University Honors Program and women’s volleyball team will collaborate in honor of a good cause as they take part in the Soup Opera’s third annual walk-a-thon.
Students in the event have their friends, family and faculty pledge support as they participate in a five-mile walk from the Soup Opera through downtown Fairmont and the east side. However, this event is open to anyone who would like to participate.
The Soup Opera is a local charitable organization that has been in operation since 1983, distributing hot lunches daily, as well as providing other basic services.
“The Soup Opera has held a walk-a-thon for the last three years, and the Honors program has participated every year. The event helps to pay the bills and expenses of putting out that many meals every year, because even though the donations from people are really tremendous, they don’t cover everything,” said Honors Program Director Dr. J. Robert Baker.
Nick Oliveto, a participant in past years and a senior double majoring in Criminal Justice and National Intelligence and Security, had this to say about the event:
“The walk-a-thon was an amazing success by two accounts: one in the funds it raised for one of Fairmont's most important social programs, the Soup Opera, another in that it brought Fairmont's best and brightest together to raise awareness for the mission and services of the kitchen. The walk-a-thon raised funds by having students participate in a five-mile trek across Fairmont. Before the walk, students solicited dollar-per-mile or fixed donations from members of the Fairmont community. Students did more than raise money though. During the walk across town, onlookers frequently stopped participants to ask why they were walking. Each of these people was an opportunity to raise awareness for the Soup Opera. Not only that, but as has been noted countless times by the media, service and civic engagement among young adults is at an all-time low; the walk-a-thon was a chance for students to start their involvement with the community. The participants were mostly Honors students, so we did more than just show up for a nice stroll across town. Honors students learned about the Soup Opera and its continuing need for support and donations to provide a valuable service to Fairmont. I don't think a single Honors student left the event in some way without becoming more cognizant of the civic duty all members of a community have to help social programs like the Soup Opera.
“I became involved with the walk-a-thon at the recommendation of Dr. Baker, who has aided the Soup Opera for years. However, I've known about the kitchen for a long time; Saint Peter's The Fisherman Parish, my church, is just down the road from it. I remember as a kid, I would walk the donuts leftover from the social hour after Mass to the kitchen's door at the request of my parents. As a kid, that hill seemed formidable, but when I'd protest, my parents would always sternly remind me that people there would really enjoy these donuts and normally wouldn't get them, so from a young age I was aware of the need to help the kitchen, but at the same time, fell out of the practice over the years, so this walk-a-thon was a chance for me to reconnect with an old habit I should have never given up.”
For more information about the event or to sign up for the Walk-a-Thon, contact the Soup Opera’s Director Shelia Tenant at (304) 367-1098.