Special Olympics annual Strides 5k fundraiser a resounding success



Special Olympics annual Strides 5k fundraiser a resounding success

Staff Writer Sean O'Connor

The bells of Corr Chapel were replaced with blaring music and cheering last Thursday night when a group of eager runners gathered on the edge of the Campus Green. While the group waited anxiously at the line, spectators wandered to other parts of campus, dressed in costumes and dated outfits. An announcement that echoed, “GO!” passed under the Corr Hall archway, and the runners excitedly started off.

The annual Strides 5K fundraiser to benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Fall Festival was held Sept. 28 at the University. Students joined local Special Olympics athletes in a 5K track that circled around the majority of main campus from 7-9 p.m. Athletes traveled from Montgomery, Chester and Bucks Counties to run with members of the University’s Special Olympics Committee, while other members dispersed throughout campus to line the route with decades-themed decorations.  

The campus was split into five sections, with spectators dressed in clothing reminiscent of a particular decade from the ‘50s to the ‘90s. Runners were also given glow sticks to wear as necklaces or bracelets. The starting line was set in front of the Corr Hall steps, and the route circled Alumni Hall before sending runners in a loop that passed through the quad. Freshman Nathan Brown recorded the fastest time for the 5K, and was rewarded with a gift card to Maggiano’s in King of Prussia.

However, competition is not what Strides emphasizes. Students, athletes, and general spectators all share the same sentiment that the 5K is about something more. Events like this one are aimed at building a larger community – a community in which each member feels like they are included.  

“While we are fundraising for Fall Festival, our ultimate goal is still to spread awareness for our mission of inclusion,” fundraising chair Julia Berger said. “Strides 5K allows everyone, no matter previous experience, to become a part of Special Olympics at Villanova.” 

Berger and the rest of the committee had been planning this event for about five months, and this was the first year that a theme was incorporated into the track. 

 “The best thing to see is the mingling between the athletes and the people from Villanova—that is what this is all about,” Berger concluded.  

Ron Becker was the final athlete to travel the course, and the enthusiasm for the 5K had increased by that stage. As Ron ran his last lap of the course, he gathered every spectator and committee member that he passed. By the time Ron and his entourage rounded the last corner by Austin Hall, he had every volunteer from the 5K behind him. Ron’s finish to Strides was reflective of the entire event and truly demonstrated what this event is meant to be.

Strides 5K is one of the University’s Special Olympic’s Committee’s biggest fundraisers annually, and this year was no different. Last week, Strides produced a net profit of almost $4,000, and other venues donated food and refreshments to the event. Dunkin’ Donuts set up a tent that offered coffee to the people outside Corr Hall, and Zoe’s Kitchen was also present.