LEXINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — While Washington & Lee football waits to take the field to prepare for a season that’s currently up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Generals are responding to nationwide protests calling for social justice.
And their solution, for now? Running.
“In all honesty, I’m very excited,” rising senior running back Josh Breece said. “I’m so excited that people are decided to take action and make their voices heard.”
Breece is pretty good at running, especially with the football. He’s currently third among active Division III players in the country in career rushing yards, holding the school record with 3,710 yards.
But now he wants others to run (or walk) toward change, literally.
“As a program we are ready to make change because we all have realized our own lacking in our fight for a better future for all of us,” Breece said.
The Generals are currently hosting a virtual 5K through Saturday, July 11. The money raised from registration fees will benefit the Rockbridge County NAACP Youth Opportunity Fund.
It’s a small first step toward tackling larger social issues.
“Virtual 5Ks are a very manageable event to run,” head coach Garrett LeRose said. “Everyone has access to a pair of shoes and somewhere to go outside and run.”
With the football team spread out across the country at the moment, a virtual 5K was an idea that can bring the entire community together. Participants are asked to take a photo or video from their run/walk and post it on social media by tagging @washandleeFB and @RockbridgeNAACP.
“It starts at the community level. We need to uplift community,” LeRose said. “And how do you uplift? Education is a great way to uplift. And access and opportunity is generally one of the biggest barriers. A youth opportunity fund provides beyond just post-high school opportunities.”
Breece hopes the 5K is just the start toward ending systemic racism.
“Honestly the first step is starting in our own circles and having conversations with each other and reflecting on yourself to make sure that you are doing what’s right,” Breece said. “Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. Right now everything is very testy, very divisive right now but at the end of the day, I believe justice equality and just a better future for us will come out of this because we’re having those hard conversations and hard actions.”
Since the event registration opened on June 23, the Generals have raised over $6,000 from over 120 participants.
To sign up for the virtual 5K, click here.