MILWAUKEE — There are a lot of elements to the second annual St. Joan Antida High School Nun Run that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in the average charity run/walk.
For starters, it’s held in February – not exactly prime strolling weather in Milwaukee. And of course, there are nuns – the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida decked out in their grey habits.
But perhaps the most unusual thing about the Nun Run is that, well … there isn’t any running (or walking) at all.
“Everyone today is doing 5ks. There’s every run/walk you can think of – the mud run, the glow run – but there’s no ‘no run/walk,’” said Joel Cencius, director of development and communications at St. Joan Antida High School. “It was something that was completely different.”
The idea is much the same as for any fundraiser run/walk – teams assemble, choose a name and collect pledges. But for the SJA Nun Run, the only real physical exertion on the part of the “runners” will be lifting plates of snacks at the “Refueling Party” this Sunday at Three Lions Pub in Shorewood. The event is billed as the run’s afterparty – “a chance to come and party with the sisters,” said Cencius.
The Nun Run has a more accessible feel to it than other previous events that Censius said “had a higher price point and more limited audience.”
The Refueling Party for the Nun Run will be held Sunday, Feb. 19, 1 to 5 p.m., at Three Lions Pub, 4515 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood. For tickets and registration information, visit tinyurl.com/stjoannunrun.
He asked members of the SJA board and special events committee to brainstorm for a creative new fundraiser that would have a broad appeal across the St. Joan community. The idea of a run-less run was suggested by a board member of four years, Sharon Melenda.
“For years I’ve had this idea to do a non-run, and I always thought it would be perfect to do it in the winter, because weather’s so unpredictable,” she said.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Joan of Antida, who have sponsored the school since its founding in 1954, were an obvious focal point for the “run” from a marketing standpoint. “We wanted to honor the legacy of the sisters,” said Cencius.
Two religious still work in the school as instructors and one as a guidance counselor. Not only are they recognizable to the alumni community, but they provided the unique event with its pun-infused title – it was, after all a “non-run.” They are even featured on event’s logo, emblazoned on T-shirts and promotional material – a sister reclining in a La-Z-Boy.
“If you know any of our sisters and go to any of their homes at one of our convents, they all have those power recliners,” said Cencius with a laugh.
The inaugural event last year drew 351 participants in 30 teams that raised about $18,500, said Cencius. Twenty-seven percent of the money raised came from the top three teams alone.
Many supporters were alumni scattered all over the country. “We really emphasized the fact that you can participate from anywhere,” he said. “A lot of them can’t come to our auction or attend our spaghetti dinner, but this is something they can participate in and still feel like they’re part of a larger group.”
“People can wear their T-shirts out in California and people stop them and ask, what is this Nun Run all about?” said Melenda. “They can talk about SJA and their memories of being at St. Joan. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected with alums across the country.”
SJA’s fundraising goal for this year is $20,000, and coordinators hope to register at least 400 participants. Their presenting sponsor is Office Technology Group, which will allow all proceeds – from pledges and registration fees – to benefit the school.
The only school mission of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida, SJA is an independent all-girls high school located on North Cass Street serving a student body of about 150 young women, most of whom live at or below the federal poverty level.
The money from last year’s Nun Run was used to support the school’s International Baccalaureate Program, said Cencius.
“This allowed us to offset these costs for low-income students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a rigorous college-bound curriculum and testing opportunities. More than 43 percent of our 2015-16 Seniors who took the first-ever IB exams at SJA last spring earned test scores high enough to quality for college credit,” he said.
Registration for this year’s Nun Run is open up until the day of the Refueling Party, held from 1 to 5 p.m. at Three Lions Pub. Tickets are $25 and include a commemorative T-shirt. Anyone is welcome to attend, and organizers say there is sure to be a strong showing of current and former students, faculty members and supporters of the school throughout its 60-year-history.
“At last year’s Refueling Party at Camp Bar in Tosa, we literally took over the entire bar,” said Cencius. “For us, it’s a big family reunion.”