When most people leave work they look forward to going home and relaxing, but not in the case of Melissa Lau.
Lau, informations systems specialist for the University of La Verne financial aid office, trains for marathons on her down time.
The 31-year-old is a ULV alumna, former newspaper reporter, animal enthusiast and a woman invested in giving to others in any way she can.
Recently, she has figured out a way to do so in a not-so-conventional way.
“I’m going to run 32 races before I turn 32,” Lau said.
“I’m trying to raise $100 for every mile I run and the money is going to go toward the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,” she said.
After finishing college with a degree in journalism, the San Gabriel native found herself a comfortable job at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
“I loved being a reporter,” Lau said. “It’s like having a different job every day, but I think it was just time for me to try something new.”
When she left the Bulletin, Lau returned to her roots at La Verne in 2006 and took a job in the marketing department, and eventually transferred to the financial aid office.
It was about this time that she started running again.
Lau used to run in high school and in college, but this was her first time competing in years.
Unfortunately, her first time back on the track did not go so well.
In 2011 Lau ran her first half marathon in Long Beach and almost called it quits.
“I had such a bad experience,” Lau said.
“I swore I was never going to run again because it was painful,” she said. “But when I got home and started getting over the fact I was injured, I became inspired, and I put on a goal to do 31 events before I turned 31.”
Many 5ks, 10ks, mud runs, and half-marathons later, she finished her goal of 31 races in December.
After achieving this, Lau wanted to do more. This time however, she wanted to do something that would benefit others.
“I was spending so much money on all these races and I kept wishing that the money would go to something better,” Lau said. “Then I thought, why couldn’t it?”
For Lau’s 32nd birthday, she is going to do the same thing, but with a twist.
This time she is going to make sure that the money goes to a non-profit organization, whether or not the race organizers donate proceeds from their entry fees or if she has an extra money left over.
Her main race this year will be the Los Angeles Rock and Roll Halloween Half-Marathon on Oct. 27.
The event organizers will donate their proceeds to ASPCA, and as an animal lover, Lau looks forward to helping pets in need.
So far she has raised $255 for the race, but it is only a fraction of the $1,310 she has set out to raise by the time of the marathon.
She will be holding fundraising events throughout the year leading up to her great race,
One such fundraiser will take place Wednesday at Chase’s in downtown La Verne. Diners who mention the fundraiser during lunch or dinner that day can have a percentage of their order donated to Lau’s goal by the restaurant.
For more information, visit her page on the ASPCA website.
Alison Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com.