Some people run for fun and others jog for exercise. Amanda Steinke not only races to win – she sprints to saves lives.
Bucknell University track star Amanda Steinke (right) registers runners at the Miles for Measles 5k fundraising run last month.
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Steinke
“I chose the American Red Cross (to volunteer with) because I had a high level of respect for the things they did and how they helped people.” explained Steinke, a sophomore at Bucknell University. “It was my advisor at the American Red Cross, Polly Patterson, who suggested that I organize a fundraiser for the Measles Initiative.”
Every day, an estimated 540 children die due to measles – a disease that has almost been forgotten in the United States, but is still common in developing countries around the world. Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide.
Steinke knew immediately that she wanted to support this cause, and as a member of the university track team, a running event seemed like a natural fit.
“Lewisburg (Pennsylvania) has a prominent running community, and I just thought it would be fun to use my teammates and community, and try to get other students involved as well,” she said.
The Miles for Measles 5-kilometer run, which took place last month and was sponsored by the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, attracted 50 runners. Through donations, the participants helped save 700 children who might have otherwise died from measles. For each dollar raised, one child can be vaccinated through the Measles Initiative.
Steinke advertised a $15 entrance fee, but in many cases people gave more. Steinke negotiated with the college so students could opt to pay for their entrance fee through their Bucknell accounts instead of paying cash upfront.
Despite the fact that most college students have minimal financial resources, Steinke maintains “it’s important for others to know that it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.”
Patterson, executive director with the American Red Cross Union County Chapter, asked Steinke to support the Measles Initiative because of its impact and connection to youth. An estimated 600 million children in more than 60 countries have been vaccinated against measles since 2000. Despite making significant progress, more work is needed – 197,000 people died of complications related to the disease in 2007.
“I have been fortunate to grow up in a home that has provided me with everything I need,” Steinke admitted. “I know that because of this I have the opportunity and obligation to help those in need.”
Miles for Measles wasn’t Steinke’s first major achievement and it undoubtedly won’t be her last. Girl Scouts, vice-president of the student council, orchestra, the student newspaper and field hockey fill her resume. During her senior year, she was also a co-captain for the track and field team. Despite her academic and athletic responsibilities, Steinke is committed to making a lasting-impact wherever her future takes her.
“Whenever I embark on something, and I am doing a project like (Miles for Measles), where I serve in my community, I know I am giving back and helping others,” she added. “But I am also growing and becoming a better person through this experience.”
Steinke is a two-time Patriot League Academic honors recipient. She also received the All-State Academic Award, Graduating Senior Spotlight Award and the Soroptimist Scholarship.
To learn how you can join efforts to raise awareness and funds for the Measles Initiative, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.
You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243 , Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.