Reggae Run brings community together

Graduate memorialized with 5K race that benefits local children | October 1, 2002

Thousands of people are racing to make the wishes of Ohio children come true—and to keep alive the memories of a Xavier University graduate. The ninth annual Reggae Run kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 6:00 p.m. in Cincinnati’s Ault Park. The race, which has become one of the largest 5K races in the Greater Cincinnati region, is in memory of Maria Olberding, a 1990 graduate killed in 1994 in the nearby neighborhood of Mount Lookout while training for a marathon. Her family and friends established the Reggae Run later that year to help in the healing process. They combined Maria’s love for running, reggae music and children into a local fund-raising event that features food and a live reggae band. All of the race proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. Doug Olberding, Maria’s brother and a 1987 graduate, says the race has become unique to the running community and the Cincinnati area. In its first year, more than 2,500 people participated. Organizers anticipate more than 5,000 runners this year. According to Olberding, the Reggae Run has been the largest single donor to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter over the past four years. Olberding, a professor in sports management at the University, not only helps coordinate the race but also incorporates the event in his courses. His students help plan the day’s events, while past graduates continue to return to the run to lend their professional skills. To find out more information about the Reggae Run or to register for the race, call 513 474-1399.