College of Nursing assists at Monument Marathon

UNMC College of Nursing Western Division volunteers staff the pre-race expo for the Monument Marathon in September.

UNMC College of Nursing Western Division volunteers staff the pre-race expo for the Monument Marathon in September.

Nurses know how it feels to be on their feet for hours.

So it’s fitting that the UNMC College of Nursing-West Nebraska Division turned out in force last month to support the runners of the 11th annual Monument Marathon.

Twenty-four nursing students were joined by six faculty and staff members as volunteers for the Sept. 24 event, which included a marathon, half marathon, 5K and marathon relay through the Gering and Scottsbluff area.

The races raised roughly $50,000 for student scholarships at Western Nebraska Community College, where the Western Division is based.

The UNMC College of Nursing was one of six aid station sponsors, and the college volunteers passed out water, Gatorade and energy gels to passing runners during the event.

This was UNMC nursing student Abigail Franzen’s second year volunteering with the college. She said the positivity of the runners, many of whom flashed smiles as they passed by, was a highlight for her.

Nursing volunteers staff an aid station near the end of the marathon course.

“Taking part in events like these shows that UNMC cares about the community and its overall health,” she said. “Assisting in the Monument Marathon gives us the opportunity to engage with community members, which is important because many of us moved away from our home communities.”

Franzen also volunteered with fellow nursing students for the race’s expo the night before, where UNMC had a vendor booth. Students spoke to runners about the college and took runners’ blood pressure before the race.

Jennifer Reisig, the race’s director and the executive director at the WNCC Foundation, said that aid station sponsors such as UNMC are critical for the safety of the event’s 500-plus runners. UNMC volunteers also were placed strategically, she said — toward the end of the course to watch for struggling runners.

“Having UNMC as an aid station sponsor gave an extra element of care to our runners because of their medical expertise,” she said. “We had a great group of EMTs out on the course, but knowing that UNMC was in an area of the course where runners sometimes struggle gave us an extra level of support.”

Volunteer coordinator Alena Haun echoed Reisig’s sentiments.

“An event of this nature takes an entire community to make it a success year after year, and we appreciate having UNMC be a part of it,” she said.

“Historically, BSN nursing students have helped with the marathon as course guides, aid station volunteers and other volunteer types as part of their community health service hours,” said West Nebraska Division Assistant Dean Kelly Betts, EdD. “It is a great opportunity for them to serve the community and represent the UNMC College of Nursing.

“However, this year we also were able to be a formal sponsor for the marathon and have our own aid station, which increased our exposure to the community prior to and during the race.”

For Dr. Betts, it was her first time helping at the aid station. Now, she’s hooked.

“I found it to be a wonderful experience, and I plan to continue to help each year,” she said. “And our students were amazing.”