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Beline Obeid

School, sports and organizing a fundraiser


May 08, 2014

Click here to register for the Kids Without Cancer 5K Fun Run/Walk

Olivia Baratta admits the task seemed it wouldn't be too difficult.

But the cross country runner and sophomore at Grosse Pointe South knows there are no shortcuts in life.

A class project in Honors American Literature, which was to take 20 percent of class time on Fridays to develop, turned into much more than a class project for Baratta.

It's been a labor of love. Baratta, who lives in the City of Grosse Pointe with her parents, Chris and Lisa and younger sisters, Elizabeth and Caroline, chose her project to be organizing a 5-kilometer run/walk to benefit Kids Without Cancer.

"I decided I wanted to do something to make a difference," Baratta said. "I'm a runner and wanted to do something with that."

She said her goal was to find a charity that's a true nonprofit. She reached out to Chris Vandenberg, director of Kids Without Cancer, and the wheels - or legs were in motion.

The run will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 31. Check in begins at 9:30 a.m.

The event starts at Grosse Pointe Academy and will take a 3.1 mile loop through the streets of Grosse Pointe Farms.

Baratta had to find a location, which the Academy welcomed. She had to talk to Farms Director of Public Safety Dan Jensen about race day safety and set up a website with paypal to make pre-registration and donations easier for participants.

"I'm a huge procrastinator, so I've learned a lot about planning," Baratta said. "It's definitely tougher than I thought it would be. My family has been supportive, but I have taken this on myself."

Planning the race has been fun, and she's learned not to procrastinate. A trip to Europe with the South choir this year was followed by a recent trip with her family to Italy.

"I'd never been to Europe before," Baratta said. "They were great trips."

Along with choir, cross country and track, she is a senator for the Student Association, a staff member of the Tower Newspaper at South, a member of Link Crew and Grosse Pointe Younglife. And she has a 3.7 grade pointe average.

"One of the things I've learned with this project is what I want to do with my life," Baratta said. "I want to help people in some capacity, maybe help run a charity. This has been such a rewarding experience for me."

Baratta said it also has helped her realize how lucky she is.

"I'm lucky to be on this side of it," Baratta said referring to Kids Without Cancer. "We're raising money for kids who aren't as lucky as I am. Or my sisters."

Donations are welcome. A minimum $20 fee to participate in the run/walk is requested.

"I'm hoping to get 300 people there," Baratta said. "That's my goal. We can help this charity."

The school district is distributing information about the race. A link for donations and registration is available at grossepointenews.com.

More information about Detroit-based Kids Without Cancer is available at kidswithoutcancer.org.

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