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Only Home Cross-Country Meet at Mills, Team Places Third, and Raise $600 for Foundation

Lori Head

In the 17-year history of the Mills Cross-Country Invitational,
this year’s was unique, not just because the team was decked
out in blue and yellow paint, not just because two team members ran
their personal best. This year, the team donated all of the
proceeds to a no-kill animal shelter in desperate need of help.

The team invited twice as many runners as usual; 10 colleges and
115 women and men turned out for the Oct. 15 race. Through the
registration fees charged per each runner, which were higher this
year than in years past, the team raised $600 to donate to the Milo
Foundation in Willets, CA about three hours north of Oakland.

The foundation first caught the attention of cross-country coach
Sharon Chiong, who volunteered there over the summer and found the
needs of some 600 dogs and cats lacking permanent homes to be

According to Chiong, the 180-acre facility has only two full
time employees and maybe two to three others that are part time,
including volunteers, which creates major obstacles for sufficient
human contact and companionship with the animals.

“What I was struck by was that the dogs that had open
space and fresh air didn’t care,” said Chiong.
“They would jump up and down on their hind legs…400
dogs told me everyday, take me home, take me home.” Chiong
said that she was particularly concerned about some dogs that were
placed in crates, “because they didn’t get along with
other dogs,” and apparently the proper staff and facilities
are not in place to have an alternative option.

She hopes that the money raised might finance an open dog run
for these canines.

According to Chiong, it’s policy to only walk one dog at a
time and she chose to walk only the dogs that were crated. “I
walked 35 dogs—one at a time, and I hugged each one and
looked them in the eye and told them that I loved them,” she

According to a Milo Foundation newsletter, other challenges
facing them range from needing a new van to transport the animals,
estimated at $100,000, to building a leukemia positive cat
sanctuary, to costs for updating marketing materials and converting
from dial-up to a faster internet connection.

The van they currently have broke down twice this summer and
left animals and drivers stranded on the side of the road in 100
degree temperatures.

Realizing the urgent needs of the animals and it being outside
the scope of one person’s ability, Chiong thought of
“Mills College and the power of collective endeavoring that
is embodied in the athletic department.”

The team was deeply moved, supportive and happy to make the good
will offering to the shelter, according to Chiong and others.

“It’s moving to know that you’re running for a
cause that’s larger and greater than just for
yourself,” said junior Melody Ferris.

“[The] mentality changes the dynamics,” she said.
Freshwoman Jordan Trew echoed Ferris’ sentiments. She said
that it is really meaningful to work for a cherished cause, such as

The Mills team who placed third out of eight (two teams had
incompletes), exhibited their high energy and spirit with blue and
yellow streaks painted in their hair and the chant they did just
before the whistle blew to begin.

The only women’s team to display such enthusiasm, they
jumped up and down as the team captain posed “Hey Mills women
how do we feel?” “We feel so good yeah we feel so good
yeah,” the team responded in unison.

Two team members, senior Allison Cockerham and freshwoman Jordan
Trew, ran their personal best. Both women are first year collegiate
runners. Cockerham, who placed first for Mills and was named
Cyclone of the Week, ran the 3.1 mile race in 24.04 minutes, while
Trew ran a 26.33 minute race.

Many team members agreed that there was significance to running
on their home course. “It means a lot at home, with your best
friends here to cheer you on,” said sophomore Jenny Tanyoue.
“We love our home course!” said Trew.

The next meet will be tomorrow Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. at Crystal
Spring Reservoir, near San Mateo.