By Tatjana Bozhinovski
So often, especially during the warm months, there are 5k runs raising funds for so many important causes. The run on September 23rd was very special to me. I was honored to have helped to organize the Ajvar 5K Run/Walk locally, an event that raised money for children with Down syndrome and autism in the country where I was born. I am so proud and thankful of everyone that decided to support this special event. I am especially proud of a young lady, Lauren Speelman, who volunteered to take pictures and write about the event.
Lauren Speelman is a junior in Big Walnut High School and is a member of the Yearbook and Photography Clubs, as well as the Newspaper/Magazine Club in her school. When I asked Lauren why she wanted to help with this event, she stated: “My Baba and Dedo (grandma and grandpa in Macedonian) both immigrated from Macedonia and I’ve gone my whole life hearing them speak the language and talk about their life there…This is my heritage and I want to get involved and have a better knowledge of where it is my family came from”.
This is Lauren’s report on this 5K run/walk:
What is the Ajvar 5k?
The Ajvar 5k is a set of 5k walk/runs that go on nationwide. The proceeds from the run go towards children, families, and communities in Macedonia (a small country in Europe) where they do not have access to the same medical and financial benefits that are available in the U.S.
When was it?
On September 23, in Gahanna, OH, the paths of the Creekside Plaza were blocked off in order to make way for the Columbus Ajvar 5k. The race began at approximately 9:30 in the morning, but the crowds did not begin to trickle out until hours later after the awards.
At about 9:47 the first runner could be seen in the distance, just meters away from the finish line. When the directors were able to get a better view of the participant they were in awe. Aleksandar Balalovski, a young boy, won the race with a time of 23:23 s. Last year’s Ajvar 5k Columbus winner was also competing in the race, Chris Gjorevski, who took second by less than a minute.
What has it done?
The Ajvar 5k was founded in 2012 and has since been gaining more and more attention. It has previously raised a profitable amount for children with cerebral palsy, as well as sponsoring the 11th October orphanage in Macedonia. The 2017 campaign is focusing mainly on an organization by the name of Vera, which focuses on aiding children with Down syndrome and autism. This is where all of the proceeds collected in Columbus will go to.
Why haven’t I heard about it?
The Ajvar 5k is still a relatively new affair. To gain more recognition they have just recently made efforts to establish themselves on the social media front. There is currently a Facebook page that increases in followers every day. Though not widely known the 5k had an unexpected outcome in participant registrations and overall attendance. People came not only for the run or for the cause, but also to make and interact with people of similar backgrounds. A person passing by would not think that the many of these people had not met prior to this day. The sounds of laughter and conversations (in the native Macedonian tongue) filled the streets. If you were to close your eyes you would think you were in Macedonia at that very moment.
How Can I Get Involved?
The Ajvar 5k website (http://www.ajvar5k.com/about.html) shows all of the remaining races and registration dates that are left for this year. You can also gain access to this information by following and keeping up with the Ajvar5k/UMD social media sites.