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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Student-athletes from the men’s and women’s lacrosse, wrestling and men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are each playing their part Saturday for the Gene Arnold Memorial Virginia Area 3 Special Olympics 10K Run. The run begins at 8 a.m. at the Meriweather Lewis Elementary School in Ivy, Va.

Student-athletes from the women’s lacrosse, wrestling and men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will be participants in the race, while for the 12th-straight year the men’s lacrosse team will handle all race logistics the morning of the run, including parking and traffic control, water stations from the start to the finish line and setup/teardown, among other duties. This event annually serves as one of the men’s lacrosse team’s primary community service projects.

“My two daughters, Maggie and Emma, are Special Olympic athletes and this event has always been close to my heart,” said UVa head coach Dom Starsia. “This is the 12th year that men’s lacrosse has been associated with this largest fundraiser of the year for Special Olympics and we are very proud of that relationship. The runners are the real heroes here and their participation and our modest support directly help a wonderful cause in a most significant way.”

The annual event is in its 27th year and the course is a beautiful, gently rolling 6.2 mile course that starts and ends at Meriweather Lewis Elementary School. Awards will go to the top three finishers for male and female overall and age group place prizes will also be awarded for the top three finishers in each age group.

“The men’s lacrosse team at UVa is the backbone of our logistics team for the race,” said director of the run David Zentmyer. “Those guys take care of so many aspects that make this race such a success annually.”

There is strong representation from the women’s lacrosse, wrestling and men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.

“The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have made this, for the most part, an annual occurrence for the last 10 years,” head coach Mark Bernardino said. “We enjoy being involved with coach Starsia and the men’s lacrosse team in working with Special Olympic athletes and helping to fundraise so they can enjoy the activities close to their hearts.”

The UVa head wrestling coach Steve Garland is equally excited about this year’s event. “We absolutely love this event and have done it every year since I became head coach here,” said the 2010 ACC Wrestling Coach of the Year. “The excitement before, during and after this run is palpable. Everyone really enjoys helping in such a great cause and I feel like our wrestlers are blessed to be a part of it.”

“My youngest brother was a Special Olympic athlete when he was growing up, so I know first hand how great the opportunity is for so many special needs kids and adults to be a part of a team that works together,” head women’s lacrosse coach Julie Myers said. “To be able to help our local athletes makes me and the team proud to be a part of something that literally improves the lives of the athletes and their families.”

“This event has the largest number of UVa student-athletes involved for any single community service event during the year,” said UVa Life Skills Director Phil Gates. “For the student-athletes involved, this becomes a great springboard to individually serve the Special Olympics in other service opportunities.”

Each area raises its own funds in order to compete in the Virginia Special Olympics. The proceeds from the race help fund Area 3 Special Olympics, which covers the Charlottesville and Albemarle region – for uniforms, equipment and other expenses accrued in order to compete.

Those who wish to run can sign up until the morning of the race on Saturday. The entry fee, which includes a free shirt, is $30 (students $20). Sign-ups can occur at the packet pick-up opportunity that is being held on Friday (4-7 p.m.) at First Baptist Church, 735 Park Street, Charlottesville, in the Fellowship Hall in the back of the building. Sign-ups on the day of the race will start at 6:45 a.m. at Meriweather Lewis Elementary School.

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