Marquette student-athletes support #LovellStrong with 5k fun run

Lovell+running+through+the+bridge+of+supporters+as+he+finishes+the+race.+

Lovell running through the bridge of supporters as he finishes the race.

Marquette student-athletes invited members from the Marquette and Milwaukee community to participate in a 5k “fun run” in honor to support University President Michael Lovell through his diagnosis with sarcoma Nov. 7, as well as others who are battling cancer.

Those who could not make the event in person were encouraged to participate virtually where they could print a “#LovellStrong Virtual 5k” poster and could post a photo with #LovellStrong in the caption.

Those who made any donation to the Bridge for Future Fund with their registration to the event received a #LovellStrong T-shirt.

The Bridge for Future Fund provides financial aid assistance to students who experience economic issues that affect their capability to further their education at Marquette.

One of the Marquette men’s lacrosse players who helped coordinate the event was Devon Cowan, a junior in the College of Communication. Cowan gave a speech before participants lined up at the starting line.

“Look around at all of the Marquette communities represented here today. Students from every major, dorm — from athletics to Greek life, rec sports, study abroad, chorus and service trips and so much more. Of course, what unites us all is our home school,” Cowan said.

Cowan said the person who unites the Marquette community is University President Michael Lovell. By hosting and having people participate in the event, he said he wants Lovell to understand he is not going through his diagnosis alone.

“In the spirits of Marquette, we are people for others, and today especially — we are people for the person who is always our champion — President Dr. Lovell,” Cowan said.

Lovell followed Cowan with some words from himself.

“Since my announcement of my illness — I’ve just been overwhelmed by the support of the Marquette and broader community. Today is just another day that shows what a great community that we have here,” Lovell said during his speech.

Lovell went on to thank the Marquette athletics program for their support — especially, he said, to the men’s lacrosse team for organizing the event and supporting him throughout his diagnosis as well as everybody else in the community who has been diagnosed with cancer. Lovell also thanked everyone for participating in the event and said he would remember that day for the rest of his life.

After recognizing all of those who were participating in the event who are also struggling with cancer, Lovell said, “having cancer is very hard. There are days that knock you down, there are days when you can get pretty low. And don’t ever underestimate the support, encouragement and the prayers that you provide [to] those suffering from cancer … that helps us go on to fight the fight to beat this thing,” Lovell said.

Jordan Schmid, a graduate student and member of the men’s lacrosse team, helped his team plan and organize the event in support of President Lovell.

“I think our team — we really pride ourselves on the juice [energy] we bring to others … Dr. Lovell’s been a huge supporter of us and our program for a long time,” Schmid said. “To see what he’s been going through and how positive he’s been staying, it really energizes us every day at practice … we just wanted to do this for him because we know how much he loves to run.”

As Lovell crossed the finish line, those who already finished the event gathered together to form a bridge with their hands to cheer Lovell on, give him high-fives and show their support.

Emma Soccodato, a junior in the College of Business and player on Marquette’s women’s lacrosse team, also collaborated with the men’s team to help coordinate the event through volunteering to help.

Soccodato said that together, the women’s lacrosse team decided they wanted to support Lovell and show him that they “have his back.” To do that, she said some of her teammates were running and others were volunteering, but regardless they wanted him to see how much the team cares about him.

“I think it’s important because Lovell is such an important part of our community, and when someone is going through something like this [battling cancer], you just want to be there and care for them … by showing up today and just being here I think we showed him [Lovell] that we have his back,” Soccodato said.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at julianna.abuzzahab@marquette.edu