Thousands of runners and walkers will unite for a good cause again this Blue-White Weekend as the seventh annual Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run takes over campus to raise money for the Pennsylvania Special Olympics.
The 3-mile run (or 2-mile “family fun” walk) culminates with participants running through the Beaver Stadium tunnel and onto the field where the finish line will await them at the 50-yard line. Former lettermen Franco Harris, Michael Robinson, and others will be in attendance to root on the participants.
“It overwhelms me when I see it each year,” Sue Paterno said in a phone interview. “It’s always a really fun and special day for our athletes and all the people who participate.”
The event raised $418,000 last year with more than 3,300 participants. Organizers expect to exceed both of those numbers this year. Registration for teams or individuals is still open on the Run’s website.
Even if you can’t make it to the event, two raffles to attend Penn State away games and a unique auction are being offered to add to the fundraising total as well. A trip for four to Ann Arbor to watch Penn State take on Michigan costs $50 per entry, and a trip for four to watch Penn State take on Pitt in enemy territory is $10 per entry or $20 for three entries. Pitt raffle tickets are available here and Michigan tickets are available here.
“The Special Olympics gives them a whole new life – a life to compete with other athletes and give them a really good social life,” Paterno said. “Any athletic program is really good for those who participate. They form a network of friends and hone skills that they wouldn’t have developed on their own. For our athletes, it’s really important because they do a lot of things together.”
The auction may be the coolest option of the three, or at least the most unique. A pair of Joe Paterno’s famous thick-rimmed glasses is also being auctioned off after the event to benefit the Special Olympics. A similar pair sold for $9,000 six years ago.
Penn State and Special Olympics PA have had a remarkable partnership over the years. State College is host to the annual Pennsylvania Special Olympics games, where more than 2,000 athletes from across the state come to compete in sports. The organization itself serves nearly 20,000 people with intellectual disabilities across Pennsylvania every year.