Brian Strickland

Last week, the University of North Carolina announced that it will rename its N.C. Children’s Specialty Clinic the "Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic."

“We are elated to be naming the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic,” the challenge's executive director of marketing and N.C. State junior Rebekah Milsap said in a statement, adding, "Our relationship with UNC Children’s thus far has been extremely meaningful to our committee members."

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This might strike you as an odd choice of name for a children's hospital. Krispy Kreme does not scream health, and North Carolina is not exactly winning the fight against childhood obesity.

If you are not a North Carolinian, you might be thinking that it's maybe an overall good thing that Krispy Kreme is donating money to health facilities for children, right? Why else would a university opt to tack on "Krispy Kreme" to "children's specialty clinic"? Surely Krispy Kreme has given UNC boatloads of money to treat ill children.

This, it turns out, is not true. UNC Children’s Communication Director Danielle M. Bates told me, "there is absolutely no affiliation," between the Krispy Kreme corporation and the Krispy Kreme Challenge—a fundraising event run by N.C. State students. The "challenge" is to run two and a half miles, eat a dozen donuts, and then run another two and half miles.

Krispy Kreme doesn't even provide the donuts for the race, Bates told me. The donuts are purchased using registration fees. Krispy Kreme is listed as an event sponsor, but Bates explained to me that they appear on the list of sponsors in exchange for permission to use the Krispy Kreme name.

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Bates conceded that people have questioned the use of Krispy Kreme in the clinic's name. People ask her why UNC didn't name the new building after N.C. State's Park Scholars, who run the race each year.

The problem with that, she says, is that it doesn't have the same name recognition as the Krispy Kreme Challenge. "Here," she said, "everybody knows the Krispy Kreme Challenge…the same couldn't be said for the Park Scholars." Plus, the students requested the name. "It's a way for them to steward their donors," Bates explained. So people who give to the Krispy Kreme Challenge will know their money is going to the Krispy Kreme Children’s Specialty Clinic.

And UNC is happy to honor their request."The clinic is a namesake for the Krispy Kreme Challenge," Bates told me. "It's a celebration and a recognition of the students… [organizing the race] is essentially a full-time job that they do for free while pursuing these studies." Bates added that, for them, "the namesake is a celebration for their commitment."

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The race itself may be gross, but it's an otherwise effective fundraiser. It began, informally, in 2004, and has since then raised nearly $1 million for UNC health clinics.

So congrats to all involved, we hope you didn't puke too much.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.