By Teresa Varley
For those taking part in the 20th Annual Gatorade/Steelers 5K Race, Fitness Walk and Kids' Kickoff Run on September, 1 it's mostly about the race, a chance to stay fit, an opportunity to test the body a little bit or a way to get in shape.
But for students at three high schools on Pittsburgh's North Side, it's a lot more.
The proceeds from the race benefit the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund and helps fund a $12,000 scholarship that is awarded annually to a student from each of the three North Side High Schools – Perry, Oliver and North Catholic – based on academics, need and extracurricular activities.
For Rayshawm Pritchard, it's an opportunity of a lifetime. Pritchard is this year's recipient from Oliver and coming from a single-parent home with a disabled mother, attending college would only be a dream without a little help along the way.
"We had to win as many scholarships as we could because my mom couldn't help us through college very much," said Pritchard, referring to himself and his older brother. "Without the scholarships I won I wouldn't be able to go to college. It takes a load off of our shoulders."
Pritchard remained at the top of his class, took some tougher courses in high school and got involved with the Army ROTC. He worked hard to earn this scholarship and enough others to put him through four years of college.
He will attend Robert Morris in September and plans on majoring in nursing with a minor in military education.
"I don't plan on stopping there," said Pritchard. "My main goal is to be a physician. I would like to get hands on experience in the Army in nursing and then have them pay for medical school."
Another student who has benefitted from the scholarship is Anna-Marie Danylo, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh who was awarded the scholarship when she graduated from North Catholic.
Danylo, who is majoring in political science and history at Pitt with aspirations to attend law school, has maintained a 3.868 grade point average and knows that it was hard work that earned her the scholarship and she needs to do the same to keep it.
"I applied for it and had to compete with other students," said Danylo. "After I was interviewed for it I expressed how much I would appreciate, love and be honored to receive it. I was lucky to be chosen. I feel obligated to continue to do well.
"It is a big help. College is getting more expensive year by year. It's not that I wouldn't have gotten to go to college. I am the type of person that would have found a way to get there. But it definitely took a load off my mind and made things a lot easier."
Danylo, who is a big Steelers fan, would encourage this year's seniors at the three high schools to do their best to try to earn the scholarship.
"They just continue to work hard," said Danylo. "I think they selected me because I am a hard worker. I am true Pittsburgher through and through. As long as you work hard people will notice you. This is the first scholarship I received and it was a great feeling to know someone noticed the things I have done and achieved."
You can still take part in the race with day of race registration beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 1.