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Peace Park running races held to honor MU graduate

Sunday, October 23, 2011 | 6:14 p.m. CDT; updated 9:41 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 24, 2011
Participants of the Race for Action fundraiser begin the race on Sunday near Peace Park. The race benefits the Rehab A. El-Buri Foundation. Funds will be used to spread awareness of melanoma as well as fund community projects.

*An earlier version of this article spelled the name of Rehab El-Buri's husband's incorrectly. His name is Zaied Abbassi.

COLUMBIA – Peace Park was filled with music and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy Sunday afternoon for 5K and 10K races in honor of a journalist and MU graduate who was known for her coverage of Arab issues.

Children cheered as they stood on the Peace Park bridge and gave high-fives to each runner right before they crossed the finish line.

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The event, Race for Action, was organized by the Rehab A. El-Buri Foundation. The foundation was established by family members in honor of Rehab A. El-Buri, who graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism as a radio-television major in December 2006. She worked for ABC World News in New York, where she “helped shape the network’s coverage of the Arab world,” according to her ABC obituary.

She died of melanoma in March 2011 at the age of 26.

The purpose of the foundation is to continue El-Buri’s spirit and passion for community work and journalism, said Jude El-Buri, Rehab El-Buri's younger sister.

“She was devoted to giving voice to the voiceless,” Jude El-Buri said in a speech before the race.

Rehab El-Buri was also an active volunteer.

“She had two passions. One was for journalism and the other for doing small local projects, such as helping young people with groceries and furniture. She always had creative ways to help them,” said *Zaied Abbassi, Rehab El-Buri's husband.

Humera Lodhi, who competed in the race, said Rehab El-Buri was very active in all kinds of clubs.

“She was the leader of Nashia, a youth group in the Mosque. When the holiday came up, she would raise money and buy presents for kids,” Lodhi said.

The Race for Action was the first annual fundraising event in Missouri, Rehab El-Buri's home state.

“It’s called Race for Action because Rehab often said if you have an intention, go out and do it,” said friend Maroua Jawadi.

On Oct. 8, a similar race was hosted in New Jersey, which raised $17,000. More than 110 people pre-registered for the Missouri race, Abbassi said.

Part of the race proceeds will go to small community projects through grants for people who want to do something, such as fixing a bench or improving a playground, Jude El-Buri said, as well as help fund the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s melanoma research.

Proceeds will also help set up a Rehab A. El-Buri scholarship for undergraduate students starting in fall 2012. The annual scholarship will be $4,000. The purpose of the scholarship is to “inspire students to write stories justly and fairly,” said Arwa Mohammad, a family friend and one of the organizers of the race.

Jude El-Buri said the foundation tried to make the race a fun family event with food and entertainment.

Genevieve Reaume, a freshman at the journalism school who won the 5K race in 21:24, said she participated in the race because it supported a good cause and the journalism school.

Participant Sara Harrier agreed.

“It’s good to come out and run on such a beautiful day and support the foundation.”


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