The annual Strides 5K/10K run for Special Olympics was held Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The theme this year was Glow Run. Decked out in neon glow sticks and purple Strides t-shirts, runners, walkers and volunteers could be seen glowing in the dark all across campus.
The 5K course started at the Oreo, passed the church, wound its way up through the West Campus apartments, looping its way back behind the Law School and towards Bartley and, finally, finished under a decorative glow of balloons back at the Oreo.
As the largest fundraising event in preparation for Fall Festival, this year the Strides race had over 260 registered runners and over 100 volunteers involved in its operation.
The Fundraising Committee worked for months prior to the race as they created a course, designed shirts, advertised for the event and made sure everything was ready for race day—including providing water, food, prizes, music and decorations for everyone there.
Members from all aspects of the University community—students, faculty, alumni and even family members of racers—came out to participate and cheer on one another.
The committee and the participants heard from special guest speaker Don Haffelfinger. Haffelfinger has spoken at the Strides race for the past three years; he has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1994, and he is currently a Global Messenger for Special Olympics. In 1999, his Delaware County Soccer Team represented Pennsylvania at the World Summer Games in Raleigh, N.C. They finished third place and took home a bronze medal. He told the crowd right before the race, “Special Olympics has helped me grow and have more confidence in myself. I’ve made lifelong friends.”
Racers took their marks and committee members lined the course with signs, water cups and cheers of encouragement. However, like many events of this nature, the race was never really about winning.
“Pretty much every 5k is always connected to a charity, which is one of the reasons why I like running so much,” first place winner, University freshman Benjamin Crawford, who finished the race in a blistering time of under 14:00 minutes, stated afterwards. “It’s always connected to building community and helping each other out.”
Strides is not the only event the Special Olympics Committee has in store this year. Katie Hickey is this year’s Special Olympics Committee fundraising chair.
She is in charge of all of the fundraising events throughout the year leading up to Fall Festival in November. Since this year is the 25th Anniversary of Fall Festival, the entire Committee has been trying to make it a particularly memorable one, and they wish to raise $25,000.
“Strides is our biggest event,” Hickey said. “It is a precursor to the spectacular displays of community and energy that we see during Fall Festival every year. Additionally, the Fundraising Committee has been really busy this year trying to implement new fundraisers and expand some of the best fundraisers.”
During the week of Sept. 16-20th, the Committee launched the first annual Restaurant Week for Special Olympics, which gained support from University students.
This weekend is the annual Acapella SpO-Looza, a concert performed by all of the different acapella groups on campus. The concert is on Oct. 5th at 7 p.m. in the Villanova Room.
This year’s 25th Anniversary of Fall Festival will be held the weekend of Nov. 1-3.