After numerous weeks of fundraising and close competition, Mercersburg’s PGA’s made their way to the starting line of the 3rd annual Special Olympics Glo Run (or SO Glo for short) on Friday, November 4. This year, the school raised a total of thirteen and a half thousand dollars, a truly significant amount of money that will surely impact the lives of many who benefit from the Special Olympics Maryland Organization.
For the members of community engagement, they knew that contributing to Special Olympics was the right choice from the start. “Mercersburg Academy has been working with Special Olympics Maryland for many years (Fun Fact: Special Olympics began in the state of Maryland!),” said Brenden Daly, Community Engagement adviser, “In late October, we helped Special Olympics Maryland run the Fall Fest cycling event down at Fort Ritchie (in Cascade, MD). It gave us all the opportunity to see how the money raised at events like SO Glow can have such a positive impact on athletes with intellectual disabilities -- it was a truly amazing opportunity!”
Planning one of Mercersburg’s biggest events is no easy task. “We spent weeks preparing,” said community engagement member Kaori Graham-Myrie ‘24. “Lots of it was deciding how we were going to structure the event differently this year compared to the past. Even though it was a lot of work, we always split it up within our PGA.” Director of Community Engagement Emily Parsons emphasized the reciprocal relationship that Mercersburg maintains with Special Olympics in regard to planning, “A lot goes into the run because we coordinate with Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD). They helped us design the t-shirt (arriving soon!!), come up with the course design, and create the donation webpage. They also visit with us several times throughout the fall to talk about the Special Olympics.” Daly suggested that the planning was in some ways like a sport, “SO Glow is fall CE's culminating event (we joked it was our playoff game!), so not a week went by when we weren't planning something!”
Some ideas suggested during the planning process created conversation between students, most notably the initial decision to run with student’s respective grades, rather than with PGA’s as had been the custom in previous years. Graham-Myrie commented on the decision, “Our initial intentions with running by grade was to try something new. We had ran with PGA every year for the past two years, and we thought that this would be a good change.” Students, however, demonstrated their love for the run by asking it to be changed back to PGA affiliation. “After our announcement, we got a LOT of feedback about wanting to run with PGAs. The students decided to go back to running with them since the funds were being raised by PGAs.”
With hundreds of glow sticks and light up glasses in hand, students ran (or walked) through the intricately planned path across the Mercersburg campus, created by the course planning committee. The run certainly created numerous memories for all, “My favorite part of SO Glo were the cool light up glasses,” said Dorothy Skuba Grey ‘23. “They were so bright that they obscured my vision! But that’s okay since I had such a good time. I honestly didn’t really notice!” “I really loved getting dressed up in neon costumes with the girls cross country team,” said Anne Sehon ‘25. “We also listened to Christmas music while we ran. It was one of the best moments I have had as part of the team.”
“My favorite part was just seeing it all come together and go smoothly,” said community engagement member Axel Flurry. “The money we raised really changed people's lives for the better, and for me that’s all that matters.” At the finish, teams and groups were greeted with a dance party, drinks and donuts. By the end of the night when all the festivities were complete, the dance PGA had raised the most money, a total of three thousand, four hundred forty five dollars.
As a result of the school’s contributions, Head of School Quentin McDowell rewarded students with a dress down day and buffet lunch in order to celebrate. With the continued success of the event year after year, the Mercersburg community is sure to keep this “glowing” tradition alive.