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Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Thomas Ray Garcia ’16

Pharr, Texas • English View Profile

Team U and Me

Making a difference through a student organization

Joining Team U has been one of the best decisions I have made at Princeton. I remember how surprised I felt when I discovered that Princeton had an organization like Team U that both raised funds for charity and participated in endurance events. As a long distance runner with a strong inclination for charity work, it seemed like the perfect fit for me.

This combination of passions has given me the motivation to re-evaluate why I run. Running, something I once considered solely a solitary and personal ritual, turned into a way for me to help others. Now not only do I participate in half marathons for my own personal gain, but I also raise money for Shoe4Africa. I feel like a better individual knowing that my running and fundraising has led to the construction of a children’s hospital in Kenya. Telling my friends about my efforts has spread word about the cause, which has inspired more people to further Team U’s dual goal of living a healthy lifestyle and supporting charity.

In addition to feeling like I’ve made an impact, my favorite part about being a part of Team U is the camaraderie. My fondest memories about cross country center on the strong relationships I formed with my teammates, and this has carried over to Team U. I have met extraordinary people through my involvement in the organization, and have yet to meet even half of the students who comprise the team.

This past fall, I competed in the Princeton Half Marathon with Team U. After recovering from a six-month injury, I felt like the race would be a humiliating and painful reminder of my period of inactivity. But what kept me going throughout the run was reminding myself about why I joined Team U in the first place. The race wasn’t just about me. I was about running for the team. I was running for charity. I kept these positive thoughts in my mind throughout the race, which I believe pushed me to finish. In the end, I finished within 10 minutes of my personal best, and I afterwards found out that Team U surpassed the semester’s fundraising expectation. The event was a success, and to this day the Princeton Half Marathon has remained one of my fondest memories of sophomore year.

Finishing the 2013 Princeton Half Marathon
Finishing the 2013 Princeton Half Marathon

While everyone has his own personal reasons for joining Team U, I think there is a common thread that connects everyone’s stories: the desire to make a difference, whether it’s in the community or oneself. Team U has allowed me to accomplish both.