BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King College women's soccer team and multiple players from King's 24 athletic teams took time out of their busy fall season to serve the local community over the last weekend of September. The players and coaches participated in a 5k fundraising event held at Warrior's Path State Park in Kingsport, Tenn. to help raise awareness for mitochondrial disease and support local five-year-old Cooper Castle who lives with the ailment.
The event ran all day on Saturday, Sept. 29, with several fun activities for runners to participate in before the race began. The players helped serve, coordinate, and manage these activities before competing themselves in the 5k race. Women's Soccer freshmen Kara Montgomery won the event and Keely Easterling followed close behind in third place, but it was not about winning on this day.
The women's soccer team was joined in the effort by the entire men's volleyball team and many players from the men's soccer program.
Women's Soccer Assistant Coach Danny McBride, who has developed a relationship with the Castle family through the Youth Soccer Association in Kingsport, said, "This was an incredible opportunity for our girls, and I know they had great fun on Sunday.
"The Castles amazing people whom I have got to know very well since coaching Cooper and his older brother, Jackson, last fall. I wanted to be able to help out in any way possible."
McBride also stated, "I'm really thankful that our girls, the men's volleyball team, and the men's soccer team jumped at the chance to represent King in the community while running this race for a great cause. I'm also thankful to [men's basketball] Coach Pitts and [swimming and diving] Coach Connor for their contributions. Our athletic programs here at King are about more than just winning championships and it's great to see these teams showing a willingness to prove that. There's no doubt we will be involved again next year."
Mitochondrial diseases are those that are genetically inherited and affect the functionality of mitochondria, organelles that generate energy and are integral for the operation of a person's cells. About one in 4,000 children in the United States will develop mitochondrial disease by the age of 10 years. Up to 4,000 children per year in the U.S. are born with a type of mitochondrial disease.
For more information on mitochondrial disease or how you can help the effort in finding a cure, visit the web site for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, www.umdf.org.