First students at the Andy Taylor Center

From its inception, a driving goal of the new Andy Taylor Center for Early Childhood Development has been to create a diverse and inclusive environment where children from all backgrounds can grow, learn and play.

As the Taylor Center opens its doors and welcomes its first group of students, organizers are raising tuition-assistance funds for families of students.

Students, faculty, staff and community members will gather on Sunday, Oct. 22, for a 9-mile walkathon on the High Bridge Trail. Participants are welcome to walk, bike or cycle the route, which begins at the Downtown Plaza on an out-and-back course to High Bridge, a distance of approximately 9 miles.

“This is a true team effort to ensure that families in need have access to the amazing learning and growth opportunities the Andy Taylor Center offers,” said event coordinator Dr. Ian Danielsen, assistant professor of social work. “Several student organizations, departments and faculty members have come together to make this event possible, and I hope in addition to having a lot of fun, we are able to raise a significant amount of money for these families.”

Additional partners supporting the event include High Bridge Trail State Park, Real Living Cornerstone and The Outdoor Adventure Store, which is owned by Sandy River Adventure Park in Prince Edward County.

A celebratory event will take place at 2 p.m. at the Downtown Plaza to congratulate participants and award prizes for those logging the most miles and securing the highest pledge amounts. The first 100 finishers will receive commemorative T-shirts, and WMLU broadcasters will be on site providing lively music.

Danielsen said organizers hope to raise at least $2,000. All funds will serve the Andy Taylor Center Scholarship Fund, to provide tuition assistance to the families of students.

Those interested in participating in the walkathon can visit the event’s Facebook page by searching “Andy Taylor Center Inaugural Walkathon.”

Pledged donations to the Andy Taylor Center should be made to Longwood University and will be collected at the event site at the intersection of Main Street and High Bridge Trail State Park in downtown Farmville.

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