PHOENIX, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,600 feet on 805 runners will hit the streets as University of Phoenix fields an employee team from across the nation to participate in this year's P.F. Chang's Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and 1/2-Marathon scheduled on Sunday, Jan. 17, in Phoenix. According to race officials, the University is the largest employee group to participate in the Arizona race's seven-year history.
"We are proud and excited to take part in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon for a second year, and are bringing more excitement, more energy and more 'Phoenixes' to January's event," said Brian Swartz, chief financial officer of Apollo Group, University of Phoenix's parent company, and executive race team captain. "Our extensive participation not only showcases University of Phoenix's commitment to the health of our employees, but also demonstrates that our employees have huge hearts when it comes to their community with Phoenix Children's Hospital as the beneficiary of their collective efforts."
Phoenix Children's Hospital is one of the nation's top 10 largest freestanding children's hospitals, providing world-class care in more than 40 pediatric specialties to Arizona's sickest kids. The hospital is currently undergoing a $588 million expansion plan to bring its special brand of family-centered care to even more patients and families. Last year, the University donated more than $27,000 to Phoenix Children's as a result of employees' participation and executives' financial support of the race. The University hopes to significantly increase that donation this year and is promoting a number of activities to get its employees and leadership team even more involved in 2010.
As the executive race team captain, Swartz issued a similar challenge as he did last year to his fellow Apollo Group leadership team--donate $5 for every mile their employees complete in the race.
The University sponsored a GET FIT Team in Training Challenge sweepstakes among its 200 campuses in six regions across the country. Campus team members from each region who demonstrated their commitment to training for the race were entered into a drawing to win complimentary airfare and hotel stay to participate in the Arizona race. Twelve employees, two from each region, were drawn as sweepstakes winners.
In the months leading up to the race, University of Phoenix scheduled a series of Lunch and Learn events for employees to increase their interest in participating in the race. The series included speakers who presented on various health topics, such as exercise and fitness advice from professional runners, medical strides taking place at Phoenix Children's from hospital representatives, and nutritious diet and food preparation tips from local chefs and dieticians.
Understanding that its employees need plenty of carbohydrates to keep them going for the more than 13- or 26-mile race, University of Phoenix has invited all 805 employees, along with Rob Wiley, a nationally renowned runner on the professional circuit who is training to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials, to a pasta dinner on the grounds of the University's corporate headquarters in Phoenix the night before the race.
"With nearly 1,000 pounds of spaghetti being devoured that night, Team UOPX will be a force to be reckoned with on the race course the next day with all of that stored-up energy," Swartz said.
Another way the University is showcasing its support for the race and Phoenix Children's is by inviting students, faculty, alumni and staff to post a tribute to someone for whom they're running, or offer words of support to fellow employee runners on its Team UOPX intranet site.
Stephen Giusto, a member of the board of directors of Apollo Group, shared an inspiring story about his reasons for entering the race. Giusto and his wife Susan are running to honor their daughter Cathryn. At the age of five, Cathryn was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a life-threatening form of pediatric cancer, and spent the last year in a number of children's hospitals battling the disease. Her initial prognosis was challenging, but Cathryn endured aggressive treatments and had a miraculous recovery.
"Fighting cancer is like a marathon--long and difficult. But, Cathryn faced her challenge with perseverance, humor and bravery," Giusto said. "The doctors and nurses at medial centers such as Phoenix Children's Hospital who help these kids are amazing. We are proud to support cancer fighters and the hospitals in which they wage their battles."
Giusto added that during the long, often boring training runs, whenever he wants to stop or slow down, he just thinks about Cathryn and how she continued to fight, even during the most painful and difficult periods of her treatment.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. As of November 30, 2009, 455,600 students were enrolled at University of Phoenix, the largest private university in North America. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For information, visit phoenix.edu.
About P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2-Marathon
Entering its seventh year as one of the nation's premiere sporting events, the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2-Marathon expects to welcome more than 30,000 runners and walkers to Phoenix in 2010. The marathon and 1/2-marathon offer flat, scenic courses that start in downtown Phoenix, run through Scottsdale and finish at Arizona State University in Tempe. Seventy live bands and 40 local high school cheer squads are staged approximately every mile along the 13.1-mile and 26.2-mile courses. The event concludes with a finish line celebration and headliner concert in Tempe. The P.F. Chang's race series is scheduled annually in Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Virginia Beach.
SOURCE University of Phoenix