James Island Connector Run to benefit students with disabilities

Participants run the Connector during last year's James Island Connector Run.  (Photo courtesy of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation)

Participants run the Connector during last year’s James Island Connector Run.
(Photo courtesy of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation)

On Nov. 2, runners, walkers and cyclists will gather behind the starting line of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation’s 15th annual James Island Connector Run to support students with disabilities.

College of Charleston’s club Enactus (Entrepreneurs in Action-US) is sponsoring all on-campus involvement with the run. According to Enactus member Nicole Watches, the club named this year’s goal Project 150 because it wants to get at least 150 students registered for the race.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation, who distributes scholarships to students in Charleston who have disabilities. According to the co-founder of the foundation Nicholas Gavalas, it have given out 74 scholarships in the past 15 years, the majority of those supporting College of Charleston students.

“A lot of these students have expenses beyond just going to college,” Gavalas said. These scholarships ease the  burden of school expenses like tuition and meal plans, making it easier for recipients to pay for other necessities such as medical care, physical therapy, or even a new wheelchair.

Shelby Smith, administrative director of the foundation, spoke of one of this year’s recipients, a wounded veteran currently studying at the Citadel. She said, “When the government shutdown happened, he was worried the GI Bill wouldn’t be able to cover his expenses, but he said ‘It really made me feel better to know I had money from the foundation to fall back on.’”

“We make a huge impact in the lives of students,” Gavalas said. “It’s definitely something [the community] should support.”

The event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. includes a 5k run/walk and a 10k that can be run or biked. The course extends from Cannon Park down the James Island Connector and then turns around just before the Folly Beach exit. After the race there will be live music, beer, food, and a play area for children in Cannon Park.

Runners will start at Cannon Park and progress down the Connector to the Folly Beach Exit.  Photo courtesy of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation

Runners will start at Cannon Park and progress down the Connector to the Folly Beach Exit.
Photo courtesy of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation

According to Gavalas, this route provides “an absolutely spectacular view of Charleston,” and this is the only time people are able to walk the connector.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the run this year, the first thousand people to finish will receive a commemorative medal. The first five runners to finish will also receive cash prizes.

To register for the race, volunteer or find more information, visit www.jicrun.com. Participants can register online for $30 or on the morning of the race for $35. Students from the College can receive $10 off on their registration fee with the promo code “cofcstudent.” Faculty can enter “cofcfaculty” and receive $5 off.

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Following in the footsteps of many great authors before her, Carson chose to begin her writing career with journalism. She's been writing news stories since high school and now writes for CisternYard News. She came to Charleston as a transfer after a two-year sojourn in the icy mountains of Utah and never looked back. She keeps busy by reading, playing video games and working at the Children's Museum as an expert in cardboard swords, dragons and pirate adventures. After graduation she will be setting off on her own pirate adventure, conquering the globe in her trusty VW van.


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