UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, the “Around the World for Yeardley” relationship abuse awareness event has been rescheduled from April 19 to April 26.
After the successful “Yards for Yeardley” event last year, the Plattsburgh State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be racking up the yards again this year.
The “Around the World for Yeardley” event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 19, sponsored in conjunction with State University of New York Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the One Love Foundation.
“They started it last year as a competition between the SUNY schools to walk yards for Yeardley to bring awareness to relationship abuse,” said Tania Armellino, co-adviser of the committee. “Now, as the second annual [event], it’s spread further, and it’s called ‘Around the World for Yeardley’ because it now includes North Country Community College and others. It’s expanded its base beyond the SUNYAC this year.”
The foundation organizes these activities to bring awareness to the dangers and prevalence of relationship abuse and violence in honor of Yeardley Love, a former University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2010.
Participants will run or walk behind Memorial Hall on a makeshift track. Raffle tickets will be given out to people based on how many yards they go around the track, and prizes include several gift baskets provided by local businesses and Plattsburgh State SAAC member teams.
There will also be tables set up at Whiteface Hall and the Angell College Center. Students walking by can take a ticket from table to table and will have their yardage added to PSUC’s total.
Last year, PSUC accounted for 1.49 million of the SUNYAC’s total 25 million yards. Armellino hopes this year’s event can surpass that.
The competition between schools is a part of the draw of the event, but Armellino reiterated that the focus is educating people.
“The main thing is focusing not just on a walk/run, but really what the story is behind it,” Armellino said. “[Relationship abuse] is on college campuses; it’s not something far off from what a lot of campuses are dealing with. For me, it really is about awareness.”
Armellino added that boards will stand along the route of the track, displaying the stories of relationship abuse victims, and there will be an informational table set up at the start.
SAAC members from all of PSUC’s athletic teams have participated in the planning of the event and will be on site Thursday.
The Yeardley event’s goals hold extra meaning for sophomore and indoor and outdoor track athlete Ralph Cordeau.
“Personally I’ve had to deal with it, I know people who have had to deal with it and I know people on campus who have had to deal with it, so it really hits close to my heart,” Cordeau said. “To be able to work to bring this event to campus means the world to me right now.”
Kelci Henn, junior and member of the women’s tennis team, echoed many of Armellino’s sentiments on the importance of the event, citing the need for education as a driving factor.
“It’s a very prevalent issue now, and people need to be able to recognize the signs when they themselves are in an abusive relationship, but also their friends because a lot of times people don’t reach out when they need to,” Henn said.
Each PSUC team’s SAAC representatives have become trained facilitators and run their teams through workshops with the One Love Foundation.
The programs deal with teaching the signs of a controlling relationship, relationship abuse, and talking about why people often stay in unhealthy relationships.
For anyone thinking about participating in the free event next Thursday, Cordeau had a message to try to sway anyone on the fence about coming.
“You get some sun in, you get some exercise in and help out the community, but you also help show the other SUNYs that we can rally together for a good cause.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org