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It's a race, but so much more

For those taking part in the 30th Annual Gatorade/Steelers 5K Race, it's about the accomplishment of finishing the 3.1 mile race either in a personal best time, or in some cases for the first time.

For three area students, it's about a lot more.

The race is one of the main fundraising events for the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund, carrying on the memory of the late Steelers' owner Art Rooney Sr. Three graduating seniors from North Side area high schools, one from North Catholic and two from Perry High School through the Pittsburgh Promise, are awarded a college scholarship, helping them with the ever rising cost of education.

This year's scholarship recipients are Amanda Bucklew from North Catholic, and Amanda Kennedy and Andrew Knight from Perry High School.

"I feel like it's very nice for people to take part in this race, to actually notice the students that work hard and do something to help them out," said Amanda Kennedy, who will attend Carlow University. "It's a blessing for people who sometimes think about going to college and think I can't afford it and there is nobody that is paying attention to my achievements and accomplishments. To have somebody notice you and your achievements is an astonishing thing and a blessing for somebody who really needs it.

"It's so nice the Steelers do this for people every year. This is very exciting and a great experience. It's something that is very unexpected. I am very blessed and appreciative of the scholarship. I worked very hard during the school year and I was very excited to receive it."

The recipients aren't athletes who earned the scholarship from a football team because of their ability on the field. They are students who excelled in the classroom, who represented their schools positively, and who strived to be the best.

"It means the world to me for several reasons," said Knight, who will attend the University of Pittsburgh. "I have always been a Steelers fan. That is how I grew up. I am a fan of the Rooney family, my dad watches all of the games.

"I thought most of my scholarships would be the ones I applied for, and I barely got any of those. It means a lot getting this scholarship. It's really different. I encourage everyone to work as hard as they can so they can possibly get this. My parents don't make a lot, so every dollar matters when it comes to my education. It will help a lot for paying for me to go to Pitt."

Bucklew, who will attend Penn State, said she never expected to get a scholarship from a football team, and it was a welcome surprise that will help her be able to pay for her education.

"I never really expected it. I never heard about it," said Bucklew. "Then my guidance counselor talked to me about it and gave me an application. I think it's an amazing opportunity. It helped determine which college I am able to go to. It's a huge help when I decided that. It definitely helped my family a lot." 

Santonio Holmes, the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, served as the honorary captain for the race, and like everyone else was happy to do his part to help the runners and area students.

"Just to know that the Rooney family has turned this into such a positive thing for local students, and that they are always willing to give back to the community, is nothing surprising," said Holmes. "To be a part of this is special. To recognize the winner of the 5K and to help with something that is giving these kids a scholarship, is a real honor."

Take a look at photos of the the 30th Annual Gatorade/Steelers 5K Race, Fitness Walk and Kids' Kickoff Run. The proceeds benefit the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund.