Nutrithon to raise funds for student housing in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — The N.C. Research Campus offers a lot of opportunities for aspiring scientists, and those working on their doctoral degrees.
There’s just one problem: the campus has no dormitory, no place for students visiting from other parts of the state, or other countries, to stay.
Enter the Kannapolis Rotary Club, with a project designed to raise money for student housing while promoting the healthy ideals the Research Campus is built on.
The Kannapolis Rotary Nutrithon, a duathlon slated for Aug. 20, will combine running and cycling with the race to raise more than $250,000 to create housing for visiting researchers.
“This is a great way to build a bridge to the Research Campus and the future of Kannapolis,” William “Whit” Whitley, chairman of the fundraising committee, said.
A duathlon is a three-part race consisting of a 5K run, a 25K bicycle route and a final 3K run.
Whitley said the duathlon will be the centerpiece of a day of events, including a kids’ fun run and a separate 8K foot race.
By attracting racers and spectators to downtown Kannapolis, the event will promote the Research Campus and its focus on healthier living through studies of nutrition and biotechnology.
And it will solve a problem that those researchers say is preventing some from taking advantage of the downtown lab complex.
“What the Rotary Club is doing is addressing the one problem that we’ve recognized,” Mary Ann Lila of N.C. State University said.
She said students at the eight universities with a presence on the Research Campus have to pay for housing at school, plus the additional cost of a room during their research time in Kannapolis.
Most don’t have the money to rent hotel rooms or second apartments here.
“We’re picking the cream of the crop students. When they come, they visit the campus and they’re blown away by the wonderful facilities,” Lila said.
But other universities are also making offers,” she said.
And those with better housing may win out in the current economy.
Steven Zeisel, of UNC-Chapel Hill, said recruiting the best and brightest would mean offering better housing.
“We’re giving them the training, and we’re hoping to create the science atmosphere that they want to be around,” Zeisel said.
That includes opportunities to socialize, and a collaborative living space — hopefully, Zeisel said, within walking distance of downtown.
Both researchers said that could help bring new life to downtown Kannapolis.
“Frankly, it’s going to revitalize the entire community.” Lila said.”
“These students are going to be walking around the Village, popping into shops and pubs. That’s what they’re going to want to do. That’s how campuses thrive.”
“Many of the senior scientists have said that this is the need that would make it much easier for them to have students here,” Zeisel said.
Whitley said that the club plans for the Nutrithon to become an annual fundraising event to benefit the Research Campus.
“We really want this to grow into something that benefits the Research Campus and the community,” he said.
More details on registration for the race will be available in the coming weeks as the event is finalized.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.