From rock concerts to educational meetings to running races, 26 of 29 student chapters of the AVMA recently held an array of special events to help support the inaugural World Rabies Day, Sept. 8. The initiative marks one of the first times in recent history that the chapters have joined forces for a cause.
The chapters chose to participate in World Rabies Day as part of the first SAVMA One-Health Challenge, which will be held annually to support the AVMA One-Health Initiative. Each year, chapters will focus on spreading the message of a specific disease or issue.
All of the events this year were aimed at raising money for rabies prevention and control projects of the Alliance for Rabies Control, which co-coordinated World Rabies Day along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Student AVMA, the national communication link between all student chapters, was approached by the CDC in fall 2006 about participating in World Rabies Day. In an effort to unite all chapters, the SAVMA presented the idea at its spring 2007 meeting and, once participation was approved, worked throughout the following months to develop the One-Health Challenge and coordinate efforts between CDC and the chapters.
Each student chapter encouraged rabies awareness to their veterinary college or school and community in a unique way. The chapter at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, for example, organized a benefit concert called Vet Rock at a local music venue, held Sept. 6. Three bands, including one that featured third-year veterinary students from Cornell, performed bluegrass, alternative, and rock. There were raffles offering gift certificates to local businesses.
Vet Rock was open to the public, and informational brochures from the AVMA and flyers from the county public health office were handed out to educate the public about rabies.
The event raised approximately $600, with all proceeds benefiting the ARC. Nearly half of the veterinary college's student body participated in the event. Faculty and administrators also helped by making donations or purchasing raffle tickets for a chance to win gift certificates to local businesses.
The chapter at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine hosted a Run for Rabies Sept. 9, followed by a World Rabies Day celebration featuring a concert, educational booths, child activities, food vendors, and more. The Kansas State Rabies Laboratory, International Veterinary Students Association, Canine Club, Exotics Club, and others provided support.
Five speakers, including Dr. Deborah Briggs, executive director for the ARC and a KSU adjunct professor, presented at the event.
Overall, approximately 400 people participated at KSU, including about 120 veterinary students and 30 preveterinary students. More than $3,000 was raised for the ARC.
As of late September, the chapter at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine was gearing up for a World Rabies Day educational symposium Oct. 3, and its own Run for Rabies Oct. 6.
The chapter hoped the educational symposium would lead to more interaction between students at the veterinary college, College of Medicine, and College of Public Health and Health Professions.
On the agenda were two keynote speakers from the CDC as well as a discussion panel comprising epidemiology experts from the veterinary college and the county health department.
The Run for Rabies at Florida was to take place in combination with the 26th Annual Dog Days 5K Run/1 mile Dog Fun Run. As many as 50 veterinary and preveterinary students volunteered to help organize. More than 300 attendees from the community and about 100 dogs were expected to participate. The veterinary college and health department collaborated on a booth to share information on rabies prevention.