An aerospace engineering graduate said he ran 100 miles around UCF’s campus in an effort to raise funds for COVID-19 research on Sunday, March 15.
According to Alejandro Orozco's GoFundMe page, he has already raised $447, which he plans to donate to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund. However, Orozco said he hopes to reach $10,000 by the end of his fundraiser, which he started on March 14.
“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Orozco said. “I’m confident we can reach that goal."
A hobbyist endurance runner, Orozco said the longest distance he had run previous to this challenge was 31 miles. His motivation to inspire people to donate to COVID-19 research pushed him to triple this distance, he said.
“I’ve always known I wanted to run 100 miles,” Orozco said. “With everything in the world that’s going on with COVID-19, I just used this opportunity to bring some light to a dark situation.”
In order to meet his goal of 100 miles, Orozco said he needed to run 40 laps around UCF’s campus, with each lap being two and a half miles. Starting out at the parking lot next to the Recreation and Wellness Center, Orozco said he ran 20 laps clockwise and then 20 laps counter-clockwise in order to reduce stress on his body.
Orozco said he started at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 15th and ran all the way into that Monday afternoon, taking him a total of 44 hours to complete his run.
“It was brutal, it was not easy,” Orozco said.
UCFPD monitored and supported him through the entirety of his race, even while campus was undergoing a lockdown, Orozco said. Some UCFPD officers, such as Officer Pete Stephens and Officer Austin Quinn, took photos with Orozco to show support, while other UCFPD officers donated to his GoFundMe, Orozco said.
“The UCF Police Department remains on campus to ensure the safety of the UCF community,” UCFPD Communications Specialist Amanda Sellers said in a statement. “We were happy to help this young man on his journey to raise awareness and funds for the importance of COVID-19 research.”
“I definitely want to thank [UCFPD], and I’m very appreciative towards them,” Orozco said.
Senior psychology major Lara Díaz said she donated to Orozco’s GoFundMe after seeing him run in-person around campus.
“Alejandro's campaign is helping spread awareness to these smaller crowds that aren’t fully understanding how serious an issue is,” Diaz said. “For me, to donate to his campaign is about coming together and wanting to spread the word. It’s about smaller communities gathering as a whole to give to a greater cause.”
Diaz said she found Orozco’s run to be quite inspiring to her, especially after seeing Orozco push past his 50th mile even when his body was way past his limit.
“After seeing him complete these 100 miles, it just proved to me that your mind will always be 100 times stronger than your body ever will and I think knowing that is something that can influence anyone in any position they might be in,” Diaz said.
Orozco said he plans to release a filmed documentary about his experience to his YouTube channel.
He said he encourages UCF students to donate to his campaign for COVID-19 research. If they cannot, he said he encourages all students to follow regulations and guidelines put out by UCF, the local government and the CDC.
“I can't do it alone. Help me help us," Orozco said. "Individually, I'm powerless, but together we are powerful."