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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

Baraka Bouts holds first-ever run-a-thon fundraiser, looks forward to Baraka-thon

The week of Oct. 5 was a fun-filled and meaningful one for Baraka Bouts, the Notre Dame women’s boxing club, as the team held its first ever run-a-thon fundraiser. The five-day event raised money to support the Holy Cross Missions in East Africa.

Notre Dame's women's boxing team, Baraka Bouts, fundraised over $13,000 during their run-a-thon last week.

For the first time in the club’s 18 years of fundraising, Baraka Bouts will be unable to host its usual boxing tournament due to the no-contact rules prohibiting sparring. However, this has not stopped them from staying active, coming together as a team and carrying out their mission.

The club has raised over $46,500, leaving them in sight of their $50,000 semester-long goal. The run-a-thon raised $13,490 of the current total, which served to jumpstart this year’s fundraising efforts. Over the course of five days, members of the team ran a total of 1,413 miles, bringing in donations from generous sponsors, family members and friends.

The 2020 proceeds will go towards the construction of a new science laboratory at Holy Cross’ St. Joseph’s Hill Secondary School in Kyembogo, Uganda. In addition, funds will be directed towards COVID-19 relief that facilitates the safe return of the school’s students to campus.

As a result of COVID-19, the Ugandan economy took a particularly hard hit, which directly affected many of the students and families of St. Joseph’s Hill. Consequently, it is more important now than ever for the club to raise money for the students in Uganda, junior boxer Nora Tucker explained.

“Given that our lives back here at school are fairly normal, we feel that it is especially important this year to make sure we can do everything we can to fundraise,” Tucker said. “Obviously, our biggest fundraiser, which is a three-round tournament, is not taking place in its normal form this year, so that was when the captains and coaches came up with the idea of the run-a-thon as a way to do a more unconventional way of fundraising for the club.”

Spearheaded by senior captains Erin Doyle and Bailey Baumbick, the run-a-thon also served as a way to keep the team spirit alive. Doyle said while the team cannot currently engage in direct physical contact, the competitive aspect of the club is still prevalent.

“I’m a competitive person and I think all of us are, so getting to push yourself everyday with boxing or with running is fun and gets you out of bed every morning,” Doyle said. “The run-a-thon really encapsulated that, but more importantly it’s just really fun to be a part of a club that everyone is so excited to show up for everyday and push themselves.”

Baraka Bouts plans to hold another event in two weeks in lieu of their typical tournament, the “Baraka-thon,” which will consist of a series of different workout challenges such as plank-offs and push-up contests.

The club is also making use of new, emerging technology to enhance the solo boxing experience, explained senior captain and club president Meghan Guilfoile.

“We will actually be using a virtual reality system so that girls can box without having to have contact,” Guilfoile said. “Each girl will have a headset on, [for] the virtual reality, and can box each other through the headset.”

This technology has allowed the team to mimic the competitive environment they are used to sparring in, which is a part of Baraka Bouts many have missed this season.

“We’re pretty lucky that we have been able to basically do the impossible in a season like this,” Guilfoile said, in terms of practicing with virtual reality and in terms of fundraising. “To be helping others during this time makes everyone feel better, which is definitely my favorite part about the club.”

For Baumbick, merely getting outside and being around other people, albeit socially distanced, is what makes Baraka Bouts a special experience.

“It’s just been phenomenal to see the amount of participation despite COVID and despite the fact that we are under all these restrictions,” she said. “My favorite part of the club is the ability to be altogether, to test yourself and to push the limits of your human body.”

In addition to the events the club plans to hold, Baraka Bouts boxing coach Mike Gelchion has started a new podcast series called “In the Corner.” Gelchion hosts former and current boxers who reflect on their experiences and favorite memories with the club. The podcast aims to bring past and present members of the Baraka Bouts community closer together during the pandemic.

The podcast’s sixth and most recent episode included an interview with Guilfoile and discussed in depth the club’s commitment to fundraising for the Holy Cross Missions in Uganda.

Guilfoile described her experience of actually getting to travel to Uganda and meet the students the club raises money for every year.

“My whole perspective changed. It really helped me remember why we actually have the tournament and who we are really fighting for,” she in the podcast interview. “I’m so blessed to be able to have seen exactly what that money is going towards with those students.”