On Saturday, Oct. 20, the American Refugee Committee (ARC) will hold Run to Unite, a run/walk in Minnehaha Park to raise money for Somalia. Unlike other charitable races, the organizers can’t yet say how long the course will be. That’s because the route will be as long as a paper chain the ARC has been building one link at a time based on donations. The more donations come in, the longer the chain grows, and the longer the Run to Unite course will be.
Every time a dollar is donated to ARC, the organization adds a link to the chain. It currently has 50,000 links and measures about a mile and a half long. ARC’s Jenna Myrland said the paper chain was created in an earlier ARC fundraising effort.
“The world’s largest paper chain for Somalia started with our Facebook page,” said Myrland. “That was meant to create some sort of physical representation for all the actions that were happening for Somalia on the page. People asked ‘why stop building the paper chain, because it represents people coming together?’ We thought, ‘why do we stop?’”
ARC already had plans for Run to Unite and decided the run/walk would be a great opportunity to continue the paper chain project. Every dollar collected through donations or the $20 registration fee adds another link to the chain, Myrland said ARC hopes to bring in $50,000 with the race, which would double the length of the chain — and therefore the race — to around three miles.
Should ARC meet its $50,000 goal, African money transfer service Dahabshill will donate $50,000 in matching funds to ARC for Somali community projects.
Registration for Run to Unite begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 20 at Minnehaha Park. The race begins at 11 a.m., with activities, music and Somali food in the interim. Myrland said one of the biggest attractions will be the chance to see the world’s largest paper chain removed from ARC’s office and laid out end-to-end.
“It is filling our office like you wouldn’t believe,” said Myrland. “It’s literally hanging from the ceiling, overflowing cubes. It’s a lot of fun to have it in the office.”