NEW BRITAIN – Students from four city schools got the college experience Friday when they visited Central Connecticut State University for Love Wins: Finish the Race!
Over the course of the day, about 700 students from Northend Elementary School, Chamberlain Elementary School, Smith Elementary School and DiLoreto Magnet School visited CCSU to learn about college from CCSU students and participate in various activities and fun events.
The annual event honors the life of Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, a victim of 2012’s Sandy Hook School shooting. Her mother, Nelba Márquez-Greene, created The Ana Grace Project in her daughter’s memory. According to the organization, “Love Wins: Finish the Race!” is based on the idea that love, community and connection can change lives and lead to a brighter future.
During Friday’s Finish the Race event, which is a partnership with CCSU, the students sampled academics, campus life, and hung out with the school’s student athletes. While rain forced the cancellation of outdoor track & field events, the elementary and middle school students had a dance party in the CCSU Student Center.
Márquez-Greene said this year, which is the third year of the event, was another “amazing” turnout.
“Given the fact that it’s raining, to see the community come together this way to still make it a super fun day is CCSU,” Márquez-Greene told The Herald.
CCSU President Zulma Toro said she was happy to partner with The Ana Grace Project for this event and others like it.
“We couldn’t be more supportive of its mission to promote love and build community and connection for every child and to impart the message that education is the path to a successful future,” Toro said. “It’s a special experience in giving back to our community that benefits our student athletes and volunteers – not just the New Britain school students.”
To underscore the “Finish the Race” message, each student received a new pair of athletic shoes from Fleet Feet of West Hartford. Fleet Feet not only donated the shoes, but the company’s staff visited the schools last month and measured each child to ensure the shoes would be the right size. Each student will also took home a backpack stuffed with a sports drink and other goodies.
“The only thing better than being a Blue Devil is being a Blue Devil with a purple heart,” Márquez-Greene said, referring to the logo of the Ana Grace Project which was inspired by Ana Grace Márquez-Greene’s favorite color.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.