Pair Up 4 a Purpose prepares for 4k

Breanne Hunter

Runners and walkers will fill Iowa State’s Central Campus on Nov. 6 to compete in the Pair Up 4 a Purpose 4k, which raises money for the Youth & Shelter Services Great Relationships in Pairs mentoring program.

Youth & Shelter Services is hosting the second annual Pair Up 4 a Purpose 4k this fall in hopes of bringing more awareness and additional funds to the Great Relationships in Pairs program, said Karen Cruise, the mentoring program coordinator for Story County.

The biggest challenge in preparing this event has been finding a time for an event in a busy town.

“Being in a community like this, there is always something going on, so it’s hard to compete with everything,” Cruise said.

Despite this, the race was able to attract 185 participants last year, and organizers hope to attract many more this year. Last year, the race raised $6,000, 90 percent of which went toward Great Relationships in Pairs.

The mentoring program is a service that provides one-on-one mentoring for elementary and middle school students in eight local school districts. Students are referred to the program by teachers, counselors, family members or themselves, in order to get help with academics, social challenges or issues affecting their life at home.

The students are mentored weekly by volunteers who are mostly local high school students and ISU students. There are no special requirements to be a mentor, other than being a positive role model and passing a background check. Mentors and students often spend their 30-minute to hour-long weekly meetings having lunch together, working on homework, playing games or doing crafts.

Through this time spent together, mentors and students form long-term friendships. Mackenzie Hawk, junior in finance, has volunteered as a mentor for the past three semesters. She mentors a student named Jamarion, who is now a fifth-grader at Edwards Elementary School.

“It’s been really cool to watch him grow up and mature in the past year and a half,” Hawk said.

In addition to having an impact on Jamarion by being someone he can talk to and always count on to be there for him, the mentoring program also has had a huge impact on Hawk.

“It’s given me a great perspective on life and has helped me realize the value of always having a friend there for you,” she said.

To support this program and take part in an afternoon race, participants may enter either individually or as a pair. Those who enter as a pair may either run together or as a relay where each person runs a 2K. There will be an awards presentation, during which awards will be presented to the first-place adult runner, the first-place youth runner and the first-place pair.

Pairs are encouraged to dress up as a famous pair. Last year, participants dressed as a wide variety of pairs, including Bert and Ernie, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Ketchup and Mustard. There will be a contest to determine the most creative pair. The winner will be announced during the awards ceremony, and the winning pair will win free Panara Bread for a year.

“We’re really looking forward to this event, and we would really love to have Iowa State students come out to support it,” Cruise said.

Register online by going to and click on “Events.” Early registration ends at midnight Monday, at which time the registration fee increases by $5. Entries received by the early registration date are guaranteed to receive a long-sleeve race T-shirt.

To volunteer as a mentor for Great Relationships in Pairs, contact Cruise by phone at 515-232-4332, ext. 4452, or by email at [email protected].