National Center of Deafness holds third annual 5K fundraiser around the CSUN campus

Juana Esquivel

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Participants take part in Sunday afternoon's National Center on Deafness 5k Sign n' Run. Daniel Zafran / Contributing Photographer

Ronald McDonald was among the hundreds of CSUN community members that participated in Sunday’s “Sign n’ Run Festival.”

The festival was part of the National Center of Deafness’ (NCOD) third annual 5k fundraiser held throughout the CSUN campus.

“I get invited every year,” said McDonald, who added he provides grants for the deaf every year through Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The 3.1 mile race began at about 10:00 a.m. in the F2 parking lot between the NCOD and the Orange Grove and it ended alongside Sierra Quad, in front of Eucalyptus Hall.

There were about 450 people in attendance, said Dr. Roslyn Rosen, director of the NCOD through sign language interpreter, Amber Hulsey, a junior deaf studies major and volunteer at the event.

Participants included people of all ages, CSUN and non-CSUN students, individual runners, families, wheelchair runners and people running with their pets.

Rosen said the amount of money raised was unknown and will remain so until next week because “there are bills to pay” to the university and police department.

Several CSUN police officers could be seen in various locations on campus throughout the event.

Rosen added there was police presence because it is required by the university in events such as these, but no problems were reported.

On his way to the finish line, McDonald stopped at the Matador Walk to greet three CSUN police officers that were in a CSUN police car and a T3 motion.

Children ran to greet McDonald and take photographs with him and a police officer.

After McDonald finished his race, he played with the children in the Sierra Quad.

After the official 5k run was over, there was another race for children.

As they crossed the finish line, McDonald greeted them, cheered for them and applauded them along with parents and event volunteers.

Participants were seen in red shirts that read “Sign n’ Run 2010” in white letters over a black shadow of a group of people in the background. The back of the shirt read “CSUN National Center on Deafness” and had a quote from Lawrence R. Fleischer that read, “We learn ASL. We learn through ASL. We learn about ASL.”

Volunteers were seen with the same shirt but in a hot pink color.

“I wanted to make sure everyone had a good time, that (they were) open minded and that they learn something new, that’s all that today was about,” said Michael Hart, 21, a junior interior design major and transfer student who was a volunteer at the event, through Hulsey as an interpreter.

Other CSUN students attended the event as part of a class requirement.

“I just have to come and get a better feel for the deaf culture and interact with them and make friends,” said Anahi Navarrete, 20, a sophomore deaf studies major.

Navarrete said she attended the event last year and she noticed less participants and exhibitors this year.

The festival component of the event was held in the Sierra Quad and it included exhibitors, face painting and other games for children such as hop-scotch and tug of war.

Costco Wholesale, Farmers Insurance, Spring Relay, Deaf CSUNians, the Deaf Studies Association and the California Association of the Deaf were part of more than a dozen exhibitors.

At about 11:30 a.m. attendees began sitting along the steps of the Oviatt Lawn and the American Sign Language (ASL) Entertainment Program began.

A few of the event’s sponsors talked and signed about their products and encouraged the audience to visit their booths.

The entertainment program continued with an appearance from Ms. Deaf CSUN, a poet who told the story of “Alice in Wonderland” with a twist focusing on deafness. She also encouraged the audience to act for deaf studies.

Actor Benard Bragg briefly spoke before McDonald, performed two magic tricks that included a dozen children and one adult participant and later prizes for all of them.

After McDonald’s performance, members of the NCOD lined up at the Oviatt Lawn for recognition of their participation in the event.

Costo gave gift packs to three raffle winners that included paper towels and bottles of water.

The winners for the three top male and female race winners were announced and given gold medals.

“I’m more than satisfied” said Robert Del Palacio, 25, a deaf studies major at College of the Canyons and soon-to-be CSUN transfer student, who placed third in the men’s race.

“I was hoping for my time to be less than 21 minutes, which it was, it was 20.05 or so,” he said. “I know I can do better, I hope to keep training and come back next year and hopefully win.”

Del Palacio said he participated in the race last year when he found out about the event through school but he does not remember his race time or what place he took.

He added he did train for this year’s race.

“I’ve been running pretty consistently for a few months now, since November I’ve been running,” Del Palacio said.

“I’ve been wanting to get in really good shape and I’m getting there. I’m not where I want to be at but I’m getting there.”

A $25 gift card to Ross was also given out during the entertainment program.

The event ended when all the children were asked to line up in the Oviatt Lawn. They were all given small medals.

Rosen said the event was a “marvelous day” and hopes next year is “bigger and better.”