After reviving the tradition last year, the Kentucky Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon elected to continue the “Run so They Can Ride” relay in 2018 by running the 100 miles to Middle Tennessee State before WKU played the Blue Raiders Friday.
Beginning at midnight, each member ran approximately six to eight miles during the transit.
Since this year was the 50-year anniversary of the creation of the event, SAE alum and founder of the run, Richard Ziegler, flew into town from North Carolina to serve as the opening runner.
When Ziegler originally came up with the idea, philanthropy was not considered, nor was it an SAE-only event. Ziegler said that when it was originally started, the run was designed to be a pep rally of sorts in support of a surging WKU football team.
“Our team was undefeated,” Ziegler said. “Not only undefeated, but also unscored on after four games. After the game, I said ‘We’ve got to do something special.’ So we talked about running the football to the next game in Tennessee Tech.”
Current SAE president Joe Webb ran with Ziegler during the first mile on Friday.
“It’s real special,” Webb said. “Having him there running that first mile was a huge honor, and it shows the tradition that we have and the brotherhood that we have, because 50 years later he’s able to come back and it’s truly a strong tradition.”
The members of SAE embraced Ziegler when he came back to WKU, and he appreciated how welcome the members made him feel.
“I was scared to death,” Ziegler said. “I thought these guys aren’t going to care about what I’m here for, but they’ve been great. I’ve been totally relaxed and I’m so happy to be here.”
After Ziegler opened the event, it was all on the 15 other members to get the football the 100 miles to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It took the them approximately 13 hours to complete the journey.
From a philanthropic standpoint, the SAE chapter looked to continue last year’s success. Last year, the chapter raised over $15,000. The proceeds were given to the World Bicycle Foundation to purchase bikes for unprivileged children in Africa. SAE teamed up with the foundation again for this year’s run.
“One hundred bikes,” Philanthropy chair Clay Mattison said. “That was our goal last year and we outdid that goal, so we’re hoping to have the same thing this year. Each bike is about $147, so we’re looking to raise $14,000.”
The chapter will take donations until Jan. 6.
SAE expects to continue the annual tradition next season, but does not have a game booked yet. Webb mentioned Eastern Kentucky as a possibility.
Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.