By Naomi Cahill
Calling all USC and UCLA students and devoted fans! It’s that time again to start thinking about Special Olympics Southern California’s We Run the City 5K run/walk and 10K race. Trojans and Bruins will compete for charity and bragging rights November 19 on the UCLA campus.
No matter who you run with, UCLA or USC, running to fundraise for Special Olympics Southern California helps our athletes continue to receive the necessary resources to continue playing the sports they love and to stay competitive. The athletes also have the chance to compete with their friends and support each other to reach their goals.
One of the top fundraising teams is Team Whittier, who will be returning for the sixth annual We Run the City race.
Team Whittier coach Jill Wall first learned about the race through a Special Olympics staff member. Jill and her team thought that competing in the race would be a wonderful way to recruit new athletes, and a fun experience for their current athletes and their families.
“It’s a great event our team members look forward to,” Jill said. “Also, we are always looking for ways to spread the word about Special Olympics and the We Run the City school rivalry helped us do that. We have a lot of diehard UCLA and USC fans and that makes it a lot more fun. We are looking forward to having our Team Whittier participate for our third year in a row.”
Since forming in 2014, Team Whittier now has 28 athletes. The teammates support each other by encouraging one another to do the best they can and to take their time.
One team member who overcame her shyness is Mia. Her teammates allowed her to observe practices, take her time, and to compete when she felt confident. Mia persevered and finally won a medal at her very first 25-meter walk race.
“The entire team was overwhelmed with emotion. We were all overjoyed to see how far she’d come,” Jill said. “She participated again this year and it’s amazing to see how all of our athletes grow through this wonderful program. That’s why we’re involved, for moments like these.”
There is no stopping Mia now from competing.
“It means the world to us to be able to help such a wonderful organization that has helped our loved ones grow and exceed in their events,” Jill said. “They smile from ear to ear when they run and it just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s pure joy and it really brings it all home… why we love Special Olympics so much!”
Runners can join an existing team or form their own team and compete to raise a suggested fundraising goal of $1,000.
Celebrate Global Running Day by registering for the UCLA/USC rivalry race for a good cause at WeRunTheCity.com.