Special Olympics Committee holds Strides race

Amanda Muldoon

The Strides Race, an annual 5K-run/walk fundraiser that benefits the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival, took place on Sept. 23.

Students and faculty were given the opportunity to run or walk under the Special Olympics athlete’s oath, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Strides aims to provide participants with the chance to give their best effort while having fun. All participants were requested to give a minimum donation of $20 to support the cause.They received Strides T-shirts, which represented this year’s “Set Sail for Fall Festival” theme.

About 400 people participated in the race and were rewarded with raffle prizes and food afterward. Before the race began, an inspirational speech was delivered by Elizabeth Smith, a local soccer player and Special Olympics medalist.

Though she was not able to stay to participate in the race, Smith expressed her enthusiasm and support of the event.

“I am very excited to be here to be part of this fundraiser to support the Fall Festival,” Smith said. “It is your hard work and example that inspires greatness in the Special Olympics athletes every day.”

Freshman Martin Garcia, who finished in fifth place, expressed his thoughts on his first experience with Strides.

“I thought it was great to get out here and run for a good cause,” Garcia said. “It’s a great feeling. I still want to keep going.”

“I’m not much of a runner, but with everyone cheering for me, it really didn’t seem bad,” freshman Alex Ondik said after completeing the race. “To know my running was supporting Special Olympics and all of the athletes was motivating, and I can’t wait to see them play.”

Villanova’s Special Olympics Committee worked to organize not only the Strides Race, but a variety of activities that took place last week during Special Olympics week. In an effort to raise awareness about the mission of Special Olympics, the committee held activities at the Oreo every day, including the R-word campaign.

The campaign sought to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

“This year’s Festival promises to bring out all the stops, including several new and exciting additions to help publicize Fall Festival and the mission of Special Olympics,” said Allison Kahl, the 2009 Fall Festival Director.

Villanova is a qualifier for the 2011 Special Olympics World Games, which will be held in Athens.

The 2010 National Games Training Camp will also take place throughout the weekend of Nov. 6-8. The addition of seven vs. seven soccer games should also add to the excitement and anticipation of this year’s Special Olympics.