NEWARK, Del. - The sixth Annual Pigskin Pass relay run benefitting Special Olympics will take place this Saturday, Oct. 29, with University of Delaware student-athletes beginning the run from Delaware Stadium that morning.
The joint venture between student-athletes from the University of Delaware and Towson University raises funds and awareness for Special Olympics programs in Delaware and Maryland.
The Pigskin Pass, developed in 2006 by student-athletes at Delaware, holds a special place in the heart of Delaware senior rower and Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) secretary Lauren Kanaskie. Her younger brother, Kevin, has Down Syndrome, and is a participant in numerous Special Olympics activities.
The 58-mile relay run features student-athletes from both the University of Delaware and Towson University. Athletes from university teams will participate in 10-mile increments, running a special game ball from Delaware Stadium in Newark, Del. to Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md., before the Hens-Tigers matchup at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
"I really wanted to get involved with the Pigskin Pass and be the chairperson because it really hits home for me," Kanaskie said. "I see every day how Special Olympics really affects these kids. He (Kevin) loves participating at their events."
UD student-athletes will arrive at Delaware Stadium at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday for a starting ceremony, before running to Aberdeen, Md. They will then hand off the ball to Towson student-athletes, who will carry it the remainder of the way and into Johnny Unitas Stadium. SAAC representatives from both universities will then present a check to both Special Olympics of Delaware and Maryland athletes.
Last year, UD raised $12,200 and Towson raised $9,500 to combine for $21,700. This year, Kanaskie is hoping to surpass that amount after having a good start to the fundraising.
Just as athletes compete against each other in their respective sports, the Pigskin Pass brings a competitive side to the fundraising, as each school tries to donate the most money. The end result is still for one common cause, but this gives student-athletes the edge to try and raise as much money as possible.
While only student-athletes are eligible to run, members of the general public are still encouraged to contribute. Please log on to www.pigskinpass.com and click on "Donate to SODE" to give to the general fund. Members of the public who have a connection to a specific athlete can also donate through them at www.firstgiving.com
As listed on their website, the true winners of the Pigskin Pass are the Special Olympic athletes.
"When you see kids at the finish line [of a Special Olympics event], they're so happy," Kanaskie said. "They don't care if they came in first or fifth place-they just really enjoy being there, and being with their friends, and having their families see them performing."