Tom Jozefowicz, a fifth-year member of the Marching Illini sousaphone section, is currently organizing and preparing for the Fourth Annual Marching Illini Sousaphone 5K, which supports Crisis Nursery.
In advance of next weekend’s Illinois Marathon and Sousaphone 5K, The Champaign Room caught up with Tom to learn more about the event, what it takes to prepare, and how to donate.
TCR: How did you get involved with this and how did the Sousaphone 5K start three years ago?
Tom Jozefowicz: It all kind of started as a crazy idea that a few now-alumni had, and they thought it would be fun to run a 5K with their sousaphones on, and then they realized it can be good for charity, too. The first year we did, we did it for Notes for Cancer, and we didn’t have a high goal — $500 or so — and there were only 10 or 12 sousaphone players who ran, and they were all sousaphone players. We decided we would do the race, and we raised about $2,500 that year, more than any of us thought would be possible. Since that was the first year we did it, people didn’t know if we would actually pull this thing off, in terms of people finishing the race, but everyone finished the race in under 40 minutes.
TCR: So what happened after the first year?
TJ: So we started immediately thinking about how we could make this bigger and better, and we realized we needed to get (Director of the Marching Illini) Barry Houser involved. We asked him, and he told us he would run if we raised $5,000, We kept his promise, raised about $5,600, and it wasn’t just sousaphones at that point. We had people from across the band and about 35 people. It has just kept getting bigger — 40 people last year, and even more this year.
TCR: What charity are you guys supporting?
TJ: Crisis Nursery, a really great local charity whose goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect in the Champaign-Urbana community and provide an island of safety, as well as different services for families of need.
TCR: I hear there’s a big special guest who might do the 5K this year. How did that happen?
TJ: This year we have Josh Whitman joining us, and we are very excited about this.
What I learned this AM: no good way to do this. Just have to grit your teeth. A little bumpy on the ol’ shoulder.— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) April 20, 2018
Funds raised support Crisis Nursery, an unbelievable cause. $6500 is goal, but I know we can do way better than that. #ILLINI
To donate: https://t.co/gAI2xiAaqK pic.twitter.com/Z1K5AuLgPC
Professor Houser and I have talked each year about how can we make this better than the previous year, and we wanted to get people who are well known in the community, and we immediately thought of Josh Whitman because he’s a great guy and an athlete. Between those two things, we thought this might be a thing he would get behind. Professor Houser talked to him for the past couple of months, and he was definitely interested. He’s going to be joining us, as well as some sousaphones from Purdue and Urbana High School.
We are 1 week away from the @ChristieClinic @ILMarathon Our @MarchingIllini @MISousaphones are running again. Help them reach their goal of $6500 benefiting @crisisnurseryurbana If this challenge is met, @IlliniAD & I will run! Donate today & thank you!https://t.co/UgmTNXIbzG pic.twitter.com/whHQnpuAMr— Barry L. Houser (@BarryLHouser) April 20, 2018
TCR: How does one prepare for this kind of 5K?
TJ: There are several different approaches. You can do the easy approach and do absolutely nothing to prepare. Last year, a couple people who ran in it had never ran in their life. We had a couple piccolo players, clarinet players, people who had never come close to a sousaphone. But there are some people who run with weight vests, run longer distances and truly try to get prepared for the race. It’s not about getting the fastest time, but everyone is setting their own goals.
TCR: Where can one donate if they want to support the Sousaphone 5K?
TJ: The goal for 2018 is $6,500, and you can donate at https://www.crowdrise.com/crisisnursery2018/fundraiser/marchingillinisousaphones.
Thanks to Tom for talking to us, and go support your Marching Illini in trying to raise money for charity — and make the Director of Athletics run a 5K like he never has before.