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USD co-sponsors Nikki's Fund 5K Run/Walk to raise money, awareness for suicide prevention

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota, along with the communities of Vermillion and Yankton, will sponsor the ninth annual Nikki’s Fund 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Prentis Park in Vermillion. Part of National Suicide Prevention Week activities in September, Nikki’s Fund 5K raises money for USD students in crisis situations and helps promote suicide prevention awareness throughout the region.

“Nikki’s Fund and the Nikki’s Fund 5K are extremely important in assisting USD students who are in need during crisis situations,” stated Teresa McDowell-Johnson, director of Student Rights and Responsibilities at USD. “All the support from this event goes a long ways in supporting students who need our help.”

Registration forms are available now at the Student Counseling Center, which is located at the Cook House on the USD campus and participants can also register online at AllSport Central ( or complete a form the day of the run at 8 a.m. at Prentis Park. Registration cost is $15. All proceeds will benefit Nikki’s Fund to support suicide prevention programs and other mental health needs for USD students.

“The communities of Vermillion and Yankton have been wonderful partners and supporters of Nikki’s Fund. Since its inception in 2006, we’ve raised more than $35,000 for USD students,” said Janine Harris, founder of Nikki’s Fund, which was created in memory of her daughter, Nicole Vallie Harris, who died from suicide on June 15, 2005. “Suicide is a preventable public health problem and prevention begins with each and every one of us. Our mission is educating others that suicide is not an option, that getting the help they need and deserve is.”

The 2014 race/walk starts at 9 a.m. at Prentis Park (also the finish line) with runners and walkers navigating a street course through downtown Vermillion. Prizes are awarded to first place finishers in the male and female categories of 15 and under, 16 to 25 years old, 26 to 54 years old, and 55 and over. T-shirts and refreshments will also be provided. For more information about Nikki’s Fund or to make a donation, please call (605) 335-1688 or email


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News