Almost 130 participants took part in the Run from the Law (School) 5K run Sunday for the Equal Justice Works charity and in memory of the missing SIUC law student Phil Jobst.
Equal Justice Works is a nonprofit organization founded by law students in 1986 to expand legal services to underrepresented people and increase opportunities for law students and graduates to work in the public interest field, according to the organization’s mission.
Meg Madden, a third-year law student from Chicago, coordinated the event with the help of Veronika Jones, a second-year law student from Clinton. Madden said this was the second year of the run, and while it raised $2,500 last year, more people participated this year, so the donation results should be even higher. Donations come from participants’ registration fees, she said.
Before the run started, a moment of silence was held for Jobst, a second-year law student from North Carolina who was living in Murphysboro and who has been missing since March 6. Jobst’s car was found parked on the Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River that Tuesday with its hazard lights on. Chester police and firefighters have been searching the river with no outcome so far.
Madden said bracelets in honor of Jobst became available by donation Sunday and will be sold throughout the week until the Out of the Darkness walk March 31, a walk for suicide prevention that many law students will take part in.
“After suffering from a tragedy like this, it’s been great to see the law school come together,” Madden said. “It’s nice to see the collective group as a whole unite not only for Equal Justice Works, but for one of our classmates.”
The Student Bar Association began organizing the event at the beginning of the semester, Jones said. The SBA wanted to put the run together, she said, to raise money for a nonprofit organization in the legal field.
“We also wanted to make the law school more connected with the community, so we thought that a 5K would be best for that because it appeals to a broad group of people,” Jones said.
The race was divided into two groups — walkers and runners.
Anna Newell, a second-year law student from Springfield, said she likes to attend the event because a lot of her friends participate in it. She got third place in the run overall and was the first female to cross the finish line.
Kristin Nunn, a first-year law student from St. Clair, Mo., and Randi Burggraff, a first-year law student from Gilbert, Ariz., took part in the race for non-competitive reasons. The two wore 80s-themed neon outfits and joined the walking group.
“I just thought if I’m going to come out and walk it, I might as well do it in costume,” Nunn said.
It made the event even more fun, Burggraff said, to dress up in something different than everyone else.
“We got to hold hands and jump over the finish line together,” Burggraff said. “It was adorable.”
The two said they plan to attend the event again next year but will need to outdo themselves in the costume category.
Jennifer Franklin, assistant dean for Career Services, said she volunteered at the event because she wanted to show support for the law school and its students. She said she helped direct traffic because drivers were confused by the amount of people and tents set up. Community members should be mindful of events like this, Franklin said, and be cooperative when they encounter them.
“This is a great charity event,” she said. “You want to encourage your students to take part and not feel like they’re inconveniencing the people around them.”
Madden said many law students have the incentive to get jobs at big firms and paid a lot of money, but it’s also important to give legal assistance to those who can’t afford it.
“The interest of SIU law is to serve the public good and public interest, and Equal Justice Works has our mission and carries that same purpose as our law school does,” she said.