Bearathon runners race to shine light on the Borgen Project

By Rider Farris | Reporter

Many people make the commitment to run the Bearathon each year, but fewer undertake the Bearathon for a cause. Houston junior Paul Brastrom is running the Bearathon Saturday with a group of friends to bring awareness for the Borgen Project. This advocacy organization exists to “downsize poverty” according to their website, fighting extreme poverty through support for congressional acts.

“I haven’t done the Bearathon yet; it blows all my friends away,” Brastrom said. “A group of my friends and I — it’s probably going to be like five or six of us and a couple of other spectators — we’re all going to wear shirts that say, ‘downsize poverty’ on them, which is the slogan of the Borgen Project.”

The Borgen Project is a Seattle-based advocacy organization that works to push national leaders to help fight poverty on a global level. The project has volunteers and interns, just like Brastrom, who work all over the nation. They call, write and email their congressional leaders weekly to bring the issue of global poverty to the forefront of legislative issues. Currently, their main goal is to get lawmakers to allocate more of the international affairs budget toward ending hunger, providing clean access to water and funding other global aid initiatives.

“If you can get 12 or 15 people to call a representative, then whatever issue you’re talking about will probably get placed on a list of things that they’ll at least look at,” Brastrom said. “So, the goal is to get more people to call, to email about the international affairs budget.”

Brastrom said the Borgen Project encourages its interns to apply the things they love to their internship and advocacy work. Brastrom loves running and loves being outdoors, so he thought that the Bearathon would be a good vehicle to use to spread the project’s mission.

“[My goal is] to run with my friends and have a good time,” Brastrom said. “If someone wants to stop and ask me what I’m wearing, I’m probably cool with that. I’m not really looking for a record-breaking time or anything. This is for them, not for me.”

Brastrom’s friends have also gotten behind the project and its mission. Temple junior Matthew Montgomery is one member of the group who will be running the Bearathon with Brastrom to bring awareness to the Borgen Project.

“Promoting the Borgen Project at the Bearathon is a no-brainer for me, as I enjoy the race and am in full support of the organization’s initiatives,” Montgomery said.

Following the Bearathon, Brastrom will continue his internship with the Borgen Project and will continue contacting his representatives for change. He will also be putting fliers up around town and posting on social media to spread the message. All in all, Brastrom will continue to work for the project because he believes in their message.

“It’s been an interesting experience overall,” Brastrom said. “There’s no one else in Waco that’s part of it, it’s just me trying to build a good reputation for them. I like it though, it’s fun. It’s relatively easy work, but it’s good work. It makes you feel good. You’re trying to make a difference.”