Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Runner raises funds for hurricane relief

UW Oshkosh sophomore and cross country runner Henry Laste has started up a fundraising effort on the UWO campus in response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico to try and raise funds to help with the recovery efforts.

Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that made landfall directly on Puerto Rico, hit the country for over a day with hard rain and winds on Sept. 20.

According to an Atlantic article covering the hurricane’s impact timeline, areas of Puerto Rico received rainfall of 30 inches, which equals out to how much Houston received in a three-day span when Hurricane Harvey hit. The entire island lost power for an unspecified amount of time, leading to most of the population not being able to access clean water.

The damage the storm left in its wake is drastic, and the recovery and clean-up efforts have been underway for over two weeks.

Even with having no prior connections to Puerto Rico, Laste said the importance of the citizens in dire need of help is what ultimately drove him to start fundraising.

“I don’t have a connection to Puerto Rico,” Laste said. “Those people are U.S. citizens, and they haven’t gotten the aid that they need, so in a sense that’s what motivated me to take action.”

In his second year as a Titan, Laste has a background in helping his community. Hailing from Pewaukee, Wis., he has impacted his hometown by building wood duck boxes at Pewaukee Lake, which was part of an environmental conservation project he oversaw.

Laste also has a scouting background as an Eagle Scout, the highest achievable rank in the Boy Scouts. Laste’s team member who helped him with his Eagle project is a new member of the cross country team, an aspect Laste hopes will help get the effort’s message across.

The plan for the fundraising effort is pretty straightforward and mostly relies on word of mouth. Laste said his fellow team members’ effort will be crucial in getting the fundraising out to more people.

“The plan is for every member of the team to ask for donations in class, making them instrumental in the success of this,” Laste said. “The [more] everyone buys in, the more successful we will be. It’s much easier to have teammates who are willing to help out. If I wanted to do this alone, it would be a lot different and probably a lot more difficult.”

The men’s and women’s cross country head coach Eamon McKenna said Laste’s motivation to contribute to the relief efforts speaks to the kind of person Laste is.

“I can say that Henry is our most eager volunteer when it comes to serving the campus, the surrounding community and the global community,” McKenna said. “Whenever possible, Henry goes out of his way to be a part of our outreach efforts, and he is always looking for ways to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Laste came to McKenna about helping the relief efforts in Puerto Rico while on a run shortly after the hurricane passed through. After talking it over, Laste came to the conclusion that his idea would be more successful if carried out through his team’s efforts and not just through him.

“We plan on having all of the members of our team talking about the fundraiser in class, hopefully persuading their classmates to donate,” Laste said. “We are going to be donating all funds raised to the Hurricane Maria Emergency Fund set up by the Americares foundation, which buys medical supplies for individuals affected.”

Despite being in the beginning stages of the campaign, Laste said the goals for funds raised are reasonable and the awareness around campus will need to be increased to get the message out to as many people as possible.

“I would say a realistic goal would be to raise between $800-1500,” Laste said. “If we don’t raise near that much, I’d still be glad to have tried to make some sort of difference. We hopefully will be allowed to place donation bins of sorts throughout residence halls, making it more convenient to donate.”

If you or someone you know is looking to donate to Puerto Rico, please visit the team’s Twitter (@UwoCharity) or Facebook (Runners for Puerto Rico) pages, as these are the established areas of online fundraising Laste and his team have now.

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