Cal Poly’s first Mustang Mile kicked off Tuesday night with 848 student and faculty participants, although approximately 1,100 people paid the $12 entry fee.
“I’m grateful to all the students,” Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Kiyana Tabrizi said after the event. “I had a vision of how the day would turn out, and the students made that vision a reality.”
The idea for the 5k walk/run was created and planned by ASI and Carson Starkey’s family.
Starkey was a freshman at Cal Poly who died from alcohol poisoning in 2008 in connection with an alleged hazing incident. After his death, Starkey’s parents, Scott and Julia, created Aware Awake Alive, a non-profit organization intended to educate Cal Poly students about alcohol awareness.
“ASI wanted to have Mustang Mile during Greek Week and on a Tuesday in order for the greek community and the Week of Welcome (WOW) team to participate,” ASI Chief of Staff Katie Morrow said.
The day coincidentally would also have been Carson’s 22nd birthday.
“There is so much positive energy and everything went great,” Julia said. “This is a great way to spend (Carson’s) birthday. He would be pleased with the message and seeing everyone come together.”
Participants ended the walk/run with a celebration at the Recreation Center that included booths with prizes from various clubs on campus, a concert by local band Still Time, a presentation from Tabrizi and Carson’s parents and a slideshow with pictures from Carson’s life.
“The reason we are here today is to recognize how lucky we are to be a part of the Cal Poly family,” Tabrizi said. “Let’s take a moment and remember the life of Carson Starkey.”
Julia and Scott followed Tabrizi’s speech and the slideshow by addressing the room full of participants. Scott reminisced on his son’s life, wondering what he would look like on his 22nd birthday.
“Carson’s not with us at this moment, but he’s still part of the Cal Poly community,” Scott said. “His message to you is to look out for each other.”
The booths present at the festival included Campus Dining, Woodstocks Pizza, STRIDE, Engineers Without Borders, Aware Awake Alive and various greek organizations.
“We’re out here to support Aware Awake Alive and Friday Night Live,” Interfraternity Council (IFC) Director of Judicial Affairs and agricultural science senior Thomas Maher said. “We want to support the Starkey family and give back to Cal Poly.”
Winners of the race were announced during the festival. Parks recreation tourism administration junior Lauren Crawford was the top female runner. Mechanical engineering junior Christian Nunez was the top male runner.
ASI, the Starkey family and everyone involved in the planning was pleased with the event, Tabrizi said.
“I’m grateful for all of the greeks, the WOW members and the faculty that participated,” Tabrizi said. “Cal Poly will always be grateful for the efforts of Carson’s parents.”