Pre-Dental Club hosts Star City 5K for free clinic

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Pre-Dental Club, Janine Underwood, race winners, and the Highlander after the race. The event raised over 4000 dollars for the clinic.

Aaron Farmer |

Students, professors, and locals alike gathered in Bisset Park on Saturday, April 16 to get some exercise and help raise funds for a great cause.

Radford University’s Pre-Dental Club hosted a Star City 5K race in the park along the New River to raise money for the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke – a volunteer organization that provides free health and dental care to low-income citizens in the New River Valley.

“This year we decided as a group to keep it local… there are a lot of people in the area that need help,” said David Morabito, senior biology major and president of the Pre-Dental Club.

The club previously held similar 5K events to raise money for medical care services abroad in developing countries like Bolivia, but after hearing about the work being done by the clinic, the club shifted focus.

“I heard the statistics, that there were 20,000 people in the area that need this kind of care, but only 2,100 or so are receiving it, and it’s because of awareness,” said Morabito. “We’re here to spread awareness and help fill the void in funding.”

The race began shortly after 11 a.m. Some participants ran alone for the win, while others elected to walk the course in groups or with their dogs.

Brandon Bishop was the first male runner to cross the finish line in just 17 minutes and 45 seconds. Bishop was more than one full minute ahead of the second-place runner, Luis Arias.

Dr. Shawn Hutson, assistant professor of physics at Radford University, finished the race in third.

Stevie Bowman took first place among the female runners, the Pre-Dental Club’s own Rebecca Sandlin finished second, and Chris Spence crossed the line in third.

The group gathered to rest under the pavilion to enjoy snacks and refreshments after all had finished, and a raffle drawing was held for attendees who purchased tickets.

Prizes ranged from small gift cards to local businesses and restaurants, up to the grand prize: A high-tech toothbrush capable of providing reminders and brushing tips via a bluetooth connection to the user’s phone.

Janine Underwood, executive director of the Bradley Free Clinic, spoke to the crowd that gathered in the park after the race. She spoke about the clinic’s volunteers, partnerships with universities, and the citizens who depend on the services they provide.

She shared the touching story of a particular unnamed patient who needed dentures, but could not afford them.

“Because of his medical conditions – he has a bad heart, and he has diabetes, severely, his teeth were rotting. He was actually starving to death because he couldn’t chew,” she said.

“Our dental students and our dental professionals were there for him every step of the way. These are the patients that we provide health care for,” said Underwood.