BY MELISSA REESE
Salisbury University is coming back from the dead.
Zombies were running — and dancing — amok at SU’s fifth annual Halloween “Zombie-Infested” 5K Dash and 1 Mile Walk. Although the zombies were not permitted to touch people or intentionally jump out and scare them during the race, they were still lurking around every corner, and they began the event by dancing to Halloween tunes.
United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore works with nonprofit organizations in the Salisbury area, including Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester Counties. The organization is the main source of funding for Salisbury nonprofit organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.
United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore funds 80 organizations total across the lower four counties.
100 percent of the proceeds from the event went toward United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore to aid the organization in giving direct funding to local nonprofit organizations.
Student United Way is an organization on campus that works with United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore. Student United Way volunteers its work at least twice a month at soup kitchens, habitat builds and more.
Student United Way President Megan Lynch feels strongly about the impact United Way has on the Salisbury community and its nonprofit organizations. She said Student United Way was inspired to organize this event because members knew it would garner a lot of participation and attention from the Salisbury community.
“We wanted to do a big event for United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore,” said Lynch, “and this was the best possible way to get a lot of participation from our community and involved students on campus in order to give back to Salisbury.”
James M. Bennett High School student and track and cross-country athlete Yousuf Alnaseri won first place in the zombie-infested 5K race. Samuel Keeler came in second place.
Alnaseri’s running time was 16 minutes and 44 seconds. He said he trained with long runs and interval training.
“I came just supporting the fundraiser they were doing here and preparing for a race I have next week,” Alnaseri said. “I like the way it turned out — a lot of people showed up.”
Alnaseri especially enjoyed seeing the zombies in their makeup and costumes. He said seeing the zombies during the race kept him motivated and in high spirits while he was running.
“I loved the zombies,” Alnaseri said. “I was smiling throughout the whole race.”
Senior nursing major Sharon Kerwin said many of her friends in the Senior Nursing Association were dressing up as zombies for the race, so she wanted to join in on the festivities and help out with the event. She said her roommate Haley Trice did her makeup for the event.
Kerwin was excited to see all the costumes at the race as well as scare onlookers with her own costume during the event. She believes the zombie dash went well and that she established a great sense of camaraderie with all her fellow zombies.
“I loved the costumes,” Kerwin said. “I think it went really well … It was fun to hang out with all the zombies inside, and then we got to go around and have a zombie setup in the back.”
Student United Way’s current treasurer and fundraiser chair of this event and past president, Eleanor Brown, said this was her key event of the year. Brown was in charge of securing all the sponsorships and donations for the event, getting the SU logistics planned and bringing awareness to the event to maximize community participation.
Brown, who is also a senior majoring in social work and political science, said when the event started back in 2013, there were 10 zombies. This year, 50 zombies were scattered around the course.
She said that while the weather “wasn’t the best,” she was still impressed with how well the event turned out. Over 100 people registered prior to the event as well as people who registered the day of the event.
Brown loved the costumes and the display of community participation in the event. She thought the zombie race did a wonderful job of bringing people from the community together.
“I thought the costumes were great,” Brown said. “The community, the kids are great … a lot of the runners got into the spirit — it’s a really great sort of event to have everybody together.”
Brown was delighted with the way the City of Salisbury came together for this event. She especially loved seeing the children enjoy themselves by dressing up in Halloween costumes.
“What we wanted to do was we wanted to bridge of the city of Salisbury community and Wicomico County and bring everybody onto SU’s campus for a great 5K event,” Brown said. “Why not during Halloween have the kids dress up and just have so much fun?”
Featured photo by Melissa Reese