Not Out of Habit, but for Poor, Nuns to Run Again in Lynwood

Times Staff Writer

For the third consecutive year, nuns in their habits will lace on their jogging shoes and run to raise money to aid poor children and their families who receive medical services at St. Francis Medical Center.

Wearing the traditional coronets--or headgear with sides that resemble wings--the nuns will fly around Lynwood City Park on Saturday to open Nun Run ’86.

Three years ago “we were looking for something catchy . . . to get attention for a worthy cause. We needed something with pizazz. Someone came up with the Nun Run. We said, ‘Let’s go for it,’ ” said Sister Arthur Gordon, outreach coordinator at the private medical center sponsored by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul.

The first year the event raised $12,000, the second year $22,000 and this year the goal is to raise more than $30,000.


This year’s event is expected to attract hundreds of runners who will donate money to participate in the run. Entry fees for four-person relays are $200 with individual runners being asked to contribute a minimum of $10.

The medical center’s Nun Run will also get some help from its friends. Former Olympic great Rafer Johnson will be guest host and Sister Marion Irvine, a senior marathon runner and a member of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, will take part in the run.

“This is going to be so much fun,” said Gordon, who acts as a liaison between the medical center and the surrounding communities.

But the event is serious in its aim to raise funds to help alleviate some of the serious medical problems facing poor people, especially the pregnant, young mothers and abused children and their families, Gordon said.


The funds will go toward a center for the treatment and prevention of child abuse; a day-care center planned for children of working parents, and the hospital’s maternal and child health-care services.

One of the major problems the center is trying to attack, said Carol Cummings, director of nursing for maternal and child health services, is that of premature babies.

In 1985, she said, 25% of the babies born at the center had to be treated in the neonatal intensive care unit. These babies have a variety of medical problems, many of which are brought on by the mother’s use of drugs or improper diet, Cummings said.

Blacks Predominate

Of those treated in the intensive care unit, she said, 65% were black, 25% Hispanic and 9% white. Twenty percent of the mothers were under 19 years old, she said.

The overriding factor in all of this is the young mothers’ lack of money for proper medical attention, said Dr. Juan Jose Arce, director of the St. Francis perinatal diagnostic center.

“We have women who come into the center who are four months or more pregnant and have never seen a doctor,” said Arce, who is also on the staff of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in South-Central Los Angeles.

While it can cost more than $3,000 for care and delivery of a child, St. Francis along with others have tried to help with the high cost, Arce said.


To this end the medical center, with the aid of Ascension Catholic Church and King Hospital, opened La Cuna Pregnancy Clinic in South-Central Los Angeles three months ago, said Arce, who is director of La Cuna.

Arce and Dr. Jose Luis DeLaRose, an obstetrician at St. Francis, serve as volunteers at La Cuna. Medical equipment is also provided through St. Francis to La Cuna, which means “the crib.”

Prenatal medical care is provided to expectant mothers according to their ability to pay, which means most of it is free, and they are aided in finding financial aid from the various county agencies, Arce said.

“The medical center is interested in making an impact on these problems. We really care about the community we serve,” Cummings said.

Those who want to participate in the run should call the St. Francis Medical Center Foundation, 603-6350.

The first event is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at the park at 3898 East Century Blvd., immediately south of the medical center. Free entertainment will be provided by several musical groups. A chili cook-off, bake sale and food booths are also part of the all-day event.