When Darryl Dyson was hired as the new James Monroe track and field coach, one of his primary objectives was to encourage the Yellow Jackets to become more active in their community.

Dyson and his coaching staff presented JM’s athletes several possible community service initiatives. They decided on a walk/run event that will raise money for the Fairy Godmother Project, an organization that helps ease the burden of families dealing with pediatric cancer.

The James Monroe Track and Field Community Service Walk/Run Pledge Drive Lap-a-thon will be held May 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Yellow Jackets’ track.

The event will honor JM graduate Ceili Anne Leahy, who died on Jan. 27 following a battle with cancer. Leahy was 19.

“In my first year as head coach one of the things I wanted to see done was the track team give back,” Dyson said. “This was the idea that the team chose. We had the idea since week two of the outdoor season and we’ve been working on it ever since.”

The Yellow Jackets are soliciting sponsors to pledge funds for each lap around the track. Leahy competed for the JM cross country and soccer teams.

She was diagnosed with metastatic Ewings sarcoma in 2013 before her senior year began.

Still, she graduated and went on to attend the University of Virginia where she majored in Global Studies and was active in several clubs and organizations.

In April 2015, she was diagnosed with treatment-related acute myeloid leukemia. Dyson said her battle has inspired his team to give back. The JM football team honored Leahy in the fall before she died. Dyson said next season there may be a new cause to take on.

“We’re going to do it every year,” Dyson said of the walk/run. “We refer to ourselves as a track and field family. So we’ve got to start giving back to the community as a family.”

For more information on the event, e-mail jmlapathon@gmail.com.

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Taft Coghill Jr.: 540.374.5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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