By: Talia Cutler ‘23
On Friday, November 5, members of the Mercersburg Academy community gathered at the Irvine Memorial Chapel to begin the SO Glow run. SO Glow stands for the Special Olympics Glow run, the purpose of which is to raise money and awareness for the athletes on Special Olympic athletic teams. This is Mercersburg’s second year participating in SO Glow.
“SO Glow was organized with Special Olympics Maryland and the Community Engagement PGA team,” says Emily Parsons, director of community engagement. “Last year was the first SO Glow run so that group really gave shape to the event. The event is a spin on the Special Olympics Torch Run with PGAs organizing, raising money and awareness, and then the students participating in a fun run around campus. This year, the Community Engagement PGA decided to switch up the course by having it go onto back campus. They really wanted to go in the dark.”
Different Performance Group Activities (PGAs) participated in their own unique ways. Some ran, others walked, and the climbing PGA students even tied themselves together with their ropes. “We wanted to do something fun while also, quite literally, sticking together,” says climber Elliott Stein ‘23.
“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Special Olympics Maryland and I’m so happy that we’re able to keep it going through fundraisers and helping at events,” says Parsons. Corbin Kelly ’24 was a part of the team organizing the event. “The Community Engagement Team has been working on this project since the beginning of the term, and it has been a great endeavor. To get as much as possible out of our time, we made three groups: the Marketing Team; the T-Shirt Design Team; and the Logistics Team. Each group focused on different aspects of the project and worked with Jeff Abel from SOMD,” Kelly says.
Nathaniel Gotera ’24, who was part of the planning team, says, “Mercersburg is often described as being ‘in the middle of nowhere,’ but events like SO Glow combat that by connecting us to other communities–that, plus funding athletes, is at the heart of SO Glow.”
As an incentive for students to donate, acting head of school Quentin McDowell promised to wear a chicken suit to school if the fundraising goal of $12,000 was met. In an email to the student body, McDowell wrote, “I am not sure if that will generate enough motivation to reach the mark, but it is a small price to pay for such a worthy endeavor.”
Mercersburg successfully raised over $14,000 for Special Olympic Athletes, so on Tuesday, November 9, McDowell gladly donned the chicken suit.
Participation in donations and running was widespread across the study body and the larger Academy community. Kelly says, “This event is important because so many athletes are not given the right resources to compete in their sports. Us coming together as a school shows so much to those athletes.”
Although Mercersburg has exceeded its fundraising goal, SO Glow donations are still being accepted through November 19. The community engagement team also wastes no time in brainstorming ideas for next year. Eric Liu ‘22 says, “In the future, I’d love to see even more glow-in-the-dark decorations on our runners, a bigger social scene before and after the run, and of course, I’d love to see us smash our donation goals year after year.”