Huskers, kids help raise $35,000 in road race
By Brian Rosenthal / Huskers.com
The gun sounded, and Reed Brown, proud new owner of a 3:59.30 time in the mile run, departed Stadium Drive in a 5K run, along with several hundred more runners.
That included his brother, Drew, proud owner of many kicking accomplishments entering his senior season at Nebraska, but, shall we say, far fewer running ones.
Yet, there he smiled at the start of a race on a beautiful, albeit a bit muggy, Sunday morning.
“He had to,” Husker teammate Chris Weber said, smiling. “He put it out on Twitter.”
Alas, Drew did.
Knowing his brother, headed to Oregon this fall on a track and field scholarship, would participate in his third Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race, Drew told his Twitter audience, a mere five days before the race, he’d also compete if his Tweet received 200 likes.
It received 1.6K.
“Wow, looks like I’ve got to start training quick.”
That was the next Tweet from Drew Brown, the only Nebraska football player who ran in the fifth annual 5K run, which started and finished outside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Many other Huskers had already run the previous race, a mile-long Fun Run, each with a youngster by his side.
Combined, the races raised $35,000 for the Nebraska Chapter of Uplifting Athletes and its efforts to help find a cure for pediatric brain cancer.
“Any times we’re a part of this community, any times we’re around these kids, an opportunity to be with our fans, it’s always a good time for me,” Nebraska linebacker Mohamed Barry said.
“This is what college football is, being around the fans, the people who make Nebraska. When you’re talking about the cause we run for, Pediatric Brain Cancer, I’m happy we come and support this. For some people, it’s not about running. It’s just about coming here and supporting the cause. It’s not about being a Husker or not. It’s bigger than football.”
For the Browns, it’s a bit of both.
Reed, from Grapevine, Texas, became only the 10th high school runner in the nation to ever run a mile in less than four minutes. He accomplished the feat on June 2.
“The process to get there is just a grind,” Reed Brown said. “Every single day you’ve got to get up early down in Texas to beat the heat to get a good workout in. Even if you wake up at 7, it’s still 85. It’s what you’ve got to deal with. You’ve got to get up, get your run in, just mentally prepare every day, focus on your goal.
“You’ve got to know what you want to get and know what it takes to get there, and be willing to do that every single day to get to that goal.”
Gee, it's almost like talking to his brother.
“Growing up with him is a good experience,” he said. “We definitely mess with each other a lot, which helped us out in the long run, but he’s definitely a good teacher that I’ve learned from.”
Nearly the entire Nebraska football team attended and helped at Sunday’s event. The Huskers mingled with hundreds of Husker fans and signed footballs and T-Shirts in a very relaxed, informal environment. They formed a tunnel to send off the runners of the 5K race, and another to lend high fives and cheers as the runners crossed the finish line.
“Everyone’s here, so it shows an investment by the guys to be out here. It means a lot to them,” said Weber, president of the Nebraska Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, and in his second year overseeing these races.
Nebraska has been an official Uplifting Athletes Chapter and campus recognized student organization since 2012. The National Uplifting Athletes organization works hard to raise awareness and funds for a rare disease of the team’s choice. Because of the relationship created in 2012 between former Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead and Jack Hoffman, the Nebraska football team has been committed to raising awareness and funds for research for the rare disease of Pediatric Brain Cancer.
“It means a lot to come out here and be a distraction to these kids who go through so much,” Weber said. “To be able to put this on year after year, it’s fun to be able to see this come to fruition.”
Reed Brown finished second in Sunday’s 5K run to Colin Morrissey of Omaha. A trio of Lincoln runners – Tyler Boyle, Luke Nolley and Eli Connaster – finished, in order, behind Brown. Ani Schutz of Lincoln was the first female to cross the finish line, at No. 23 overall.
In the Fun Run, 11-year-old Kyler Seaman of Omaha placed first, while 11-year-old Jordyn Wissing, the first girl to finish, placed third overall.
Drew Brown wasn’t among the top finishers in the 5K, but he did finish, and with a smile. And then he sent the following Tweet:
Reach Brian Rosenthal at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.