HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) –In 90 degree weather, 4,000 people were stuffed under a tent for Holyoke Community College’s commencement ceremony. Perhaps the hottest of them all were the actual grads. “I’m sweating bullets. Everything all black, the sun beating on me, it’s crazy,” said Criminal Justice grad Alex Diaz.
Officially in the midst of a heat wave, onlookers trying to snap pictures of their loved ones crossing the stage said a little bit of heat weren’t going to stop them. “Our son is graduating, it’s extremely hot, but we wouldn’t miss this for the world. I don’t know what it are, 95? But it feels like 110,” Anthony Quinones shared. “It’s worth every little drop of sweat to see my sister graduate,” Ruth Gonzalez shared.
The heat also didn’t slow down the 5k Run/Walk for River Valley, raising money for mental health care services. Folks who got to cross the finish line at the Elks Lodge say that helping out the cause was much more important than their own comfort.
“Today was my 55th birthday and 1st 5k this was a personal challenge, despite the heat and high temps, it was just awesome,” Karen Rudi beamed. “I actually stopped and walked when I felt I just could not continue. I was just way too hot. Plenty of liquids before,” runner Danielle Paige said.
River Valley says the weather actually helped them raise more money during the 2nd annual event.
The fundraising committee estimates they made about $15,000. Last year, they raised half as much in cold, rainy weather.