On one of the hottest days of the year, an unlikely crowd gathered at Manzanita field. Dressed in blue and yellow athletic clothes and hoisting a Ukrainian flag, 15 members of the Stanford community ran in support of the global charity event Run for Children of Ukraine. Hosted by the Ukrainian Student Association at Stanford (USAS) on June 11 in collaboration with the Ukrainian Association of Washington State, the event raised money for pediatric equipment for newborn babies in Ukrainian maternity homes.
Participants started with a pre-run warm-up led by postdoc Tatjana Bilich, who blasted motivational music from the Manzanita basketball courts.
“It was so amazing to lead the warm-up with our participants and so beautiful to see the Ukrainian colors everywhere, moving to the rhythm on this beautiful sunny day,” Bilich wrote. “It was just a beautiful day with amazing people and I’m proud and very happy to be part of this great community and to contribute to this important cause.”
While some followed the warm-up with another intensive workout session led by Bilich, others chose to run either a 10k, 5k or 3k around campus, carrying the Ukrainian flag with them. Andrii Torchylo ’25 and his friend, Oleksandr Skorokhod, a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics NASU, ran a 10k.
“I want to express my solidarity with my country and support Ukrainian children, who suffer now from Russian bombs and missiles,” Skorokhod wrote. “The weather was pretty hot, so it was a bit difficult to keep a certain pace. But after around 50 minutes we finished!”
For those who were unable to attend the June 11 run, the charity event also offered an “asynchronous” option for participants to run at any point between June 1 and Aug. 24 — Ukraine’s Independence Day. From all around the world, runners signed up for either virtual or in-person teams, creating a “safe but uniting experience,” according to USAS. Participants received a “runner’s set” from Stanford organizers, including a sticker and bracelet.
Run for the Children of Ukraine drew inspiration from the wide running culture at Stanford and the Bay Area, its organizers said.
“At almost any time of the day and night, there are folks running on campus,” USAS member Pournima Narayanan, a third-year Ph.D. student in chemistry, wrote to The Daily. “This love for running is something shared by many across the country, so we wanted to give people an opportunity to do what they love while helping Ukrainian children in the process.”
Torchylo added that if people are running every day, they “might as well choose one day to make a small donation to help procure medical equipment for maternity homes in Ukraine.”
In the two months since the event’s launch, USAS has had nearly 200 registrations across the U.S., with more runners also hailing from countries like India, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The youngest participant is 2 years old, while the most senior is 93. To this day, the runners have raised around $5000.
Urging people to make contributions no matter how big or small, Bilich said that while “awareness for what’s happening in Ukraine is waning,” Ukrainians are still suffering and need help.
“They are someone’s mother, or someone’s child, brother, sister, friend… imagine they were yours. Help in any way possible for you, don’t forget about them, don’t forget about Ukraine!” she wrote.