Running for a cause

by Anna Buckley / Beacon Staff • February 14, 2013

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Lauren Cortizo is running this year's Boston Marathon to raise money for Casa Myrna Vasquez, Inc., a charity dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence.
Lauren Cortizo is running this year's Boston Marathon to raise money for Casa Myrna Vasquez, Inc., a charity dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence.

On April 15, after running 26 miles in one day and raising over $5,000 dollars over the course of four months, senior Lauren Cortizo will be able to check one thing off her bucket list: participating in the Boston Marathon. 

The marketing communication major is running to support Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing shelter and services to victims and survivors of domestic violence throughout New England, according to the agency’s website.

Because of her membership in Kappa Gamma Chi, Cortizo has raised money for the organization before. The sorority organizes an annual weeklong series of events, formerly called Take Back the Night and now named Emerald Empowerment, to raise money and awareness for domestic violence, with the proceeds going to Casa Myrna Vazquez. 

According to Cortizo, every year Kappa raises anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 for the agency. This year, Cortizo said she wanted to do even more, and is serving as a co-chair of Emerald Empowerment.

“I think this cause is so important, especially within the college community, and [domestic violence is] so prevalent, and I don’t think people know how prevalent it is,” Cortizo said. “So to have just the chair position alone was so exciting, and now to be running for them and to raise that much more money — I’m just really ecstatic.”

Cortizo must raise a minimum of $5,000 to be able to run as an official member of the Casa Myrna Boston marathon team. So far, Cortizo has raised $762 on her own through Crowdrise, an online fundraising site for charity.

In addition, the proceeds Kappa Gamma Chi is able to raise during Emerald Empowerment week will help Cortizo reach her $5000 goal. According to Cortizo, the sorority started tabling this week and is selling T-shirts and bracelets, while future events include a fundraiser with California Pizza Kitchen, a clothing drive, and an event titled “Ted Talks and Tea”. 

 “This is making sure that no matter what—because I’m running on behalf of Kappa—we’re going to be donating $5,000 to that beneficiary, which I think is really amazing. I’m really excited to be able to up our fundraising efforts for them,” Cortizo said. 

Devon Katz, development coordinator at Casa Myrna Vazquez, said in an email to the Beacon that the agency is very grateful for the sorority’s ongoing involvement.

“The Emerson community has been a wonderful partner in raising awareness about the issue of domestic violence and we look forward to continuing that partnership in the future,” Katz said. “Lauren Cortizo running for us in the 2013 Boston Marathon is amazing. She has a multi-dimensional platform to gain understanding about a dynamic issue that affects so many women and also, the work that is being done on behalf of them.” 

Cortizo has been running long distance since sophomore year of high school, but it wasn’t until coming to Emerson and joining the cross-country team that she began to love the sport. She said that the Boston scenery helped.

“I literally just run aimlessly and don’t even do loops anymore,” Cortizo said. “It’s my one time to really be alone—I kind of get away from everything. If I want to, I can think about things; if not, I just let my mind go free. It’s very therapeutic, I would say.”

Though she trained last year up to the 14-mile mark for the marathon, Cortizo said she stopped after she continually got sick. This year, she said she realized this would be her last chance to train for the marathon with Emerson cross-country coach John Furey. 

Though she’s so busy that she must pencil her training into her planner as if it’s a class or meeting, Cortizo said she runs between five to seven miles four times a week, and goes on long runs on Saturday mornings, which usually span 14 to 16 miles.

“I think it definitely helps that I’m running for a cause this time,” she said. “It definitely makes you constantly be on top of your training because [I] know that its not just for me, I’m running for someone else.”

Cortizo said ultimately, she is honored to be able to run the marathon while representing Casa Myrna Vasquez.

“I’m definitely nervous, because it’s a lot of money we have to raise,” she said. “And on top of that, it’s a lot of running. I’m nervous, but I’m really excited. I know I’ll be able to pull it off.”