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Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) will kick off the 3rd annual American International College (AIC) Run for Education. The annual 5K race to raise awareness for K-12 educational needs will be held Sunday, April 27.

Neal, the official race starter, and more than 100 runners will gather in front of the Federal Courthouse on State St. at 9:00 a.m. The participants will race along the city of Springfield's storied State Street corridor to AIC's track on Cortland St.

"This event represents a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of physical fitness. Our school districts strive to address the development of the whole child. I'm looking forward to this positive event and the lasting message that it will send to our community," Neal said.

AIC President Vince Maniaci said the race emphasizes healthy intellects for our children, healthy bodies for all, and the civic health of Springfield by highlighting the beautiful revitalization of the State Street corridor.

"The college is thrilled to create this race concept because it ties so well into our interest and passion in providing support for K-12 education," Maniaci said.

"Our M.Ed. and Ed.D. programs have had a tremendously positive impact over the last several years in educating the educators in our school systems. We want to raise visibility and awareness that will lead to further support of K-12 education," he said.

Heather Cahill, associate vice president for institutional advancement, said in addition to the goal of raising awareness for educational needs, the race will also raise funds for the K-12 cause, as well as funds for AIC scholarships. "The top three running teams will receive a cash prize, with an additional donation to the school of their choice. The team that places first will win a $500 prize, as well as $2,500 for their school. Individuals and teams that place in the top three will also receive cash prizes and donations," she said.

"We are thrilled to be hosting the 3rd annual Run for Education," Cahill said. "Last year we awarded more than $5,000 in prize money and this year we are looking forward to an even more exciting competition, as more K-12 school teams come out to vie for the $2,500 first place prize," she said.

Last year, $4,000 was awarded to the schools represented in the 5k road race. Schools receiving funds included Mile Tree School of Wilbraham, Homer Street Elementary School of Springfield, South Hadley High School, Suffield Academy of Suffield, Conn., Northampton High School, and Clifford M. Granger School of Feeding Hills.

Western Mass. Distance Project (WMDP), running for Chester Academy of Chester, N.H., took top team honors, while the Hamp High Harriers, running for Northampton High, came in second. Granger Team 1, running for Clifford Granger Elementary in Feeding Hills, placed third. Gustaf Lidfeldt, running for Suffield Academy, was the top male runner, while Floriane Chevalier, running for South Hadley High School, was the top female finisher.

AIC track coach Leo Mayo said he is excited about the upcoming race. "After looking at the results from last year, the course has proven to be a fun and competitive experience. The course starts on a challenging hill and finishes on our eight lane outdoor track.

Race sponsors include the K-12 Teachers Alliance, ProEx Physical Therapy, Future Health, New Balance and DTZ Facilities Maintenance Services. Media sponsors include Business West, Healthcare News and Mix 93.1.