ALBANY – When Danielle Sumner, Chehaw Park’s “Through the Zoo 5K” race director, asked for some help from the Cavaliers, the Darton State College Wrestling program offered to work their tails off.
The Cavalier wrestling team will assist Sumner in the zoo’s first 5K fundraiser – a road race that gallops by meerkats, cheetahs and black bears – scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., Saturday, at Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Lee County.
“We’re happy to help out,” said Darton head wrestling coach James Hicks. “This is an opportunity to give back to our local community, which is something our program is always eager to do.”
The Cavaliers will arrive around sunrise Saturday to assist in registration, serve as road marshals on the race course, assist in official race timing and results, organize the finish chute (a word to the wise runner: do NOT attempt to pass others in the finish chute!), and help in the takedown of the course following the awards ceremony.
“To have such a large number of reliable volunteers is a huge help,” Sumner said. “Knowing that we can depend on 35 Darton State College student-athletes to be there to help on Saturday is quite a relief, too, as we get closer to the big event.”
This won’t be Sumner’s first introduction to athletics at Darton, though.
Sumner happens to be a Darton alumna who, as a student-athlete, helped Darton’s first women’s cross country team win a Region XVII title and Academic All-American Team award in its inaugural season. She also played soccer for the Lady Cavaliers, and as a midfielder helped the program win its first Region XVII Championship and National Runners Up finish in 2005. She may be the only Darton athlete to compete in NJCAA national championships for two different sports.
It’s expected that her efforts, combined the those of the Darton wrestling team and other community members and businesses who have offered to serve as volunteers and sponsors, will create an excellent event Saturday that will hopefully bring in a wealth of additional funding to the zoo.