Giles County leaders are offering students the chance to go to college for free. High school seniors who can maintain their grades and are willing to give back to the community are earning their college tuition this weekend, but it means getting muddy.
The second annual Muddy ACCE race is racking up money for students, as well as visitors to the area. As of Friday, 520 people had already registered for the event, and organizers are expecting more day-of registrations.
Along with making the grade and paying tuition, there are a lot of obstacles to go through when it comes to earning a college degree. But for these Giles County natives and now New River Valley Community College students It's just a little more fun...and a bit muddier getting there.
Students don't seem to mind.
"It's been awesome, honestly,” Faith Tabor, a freshman at NRVCC said.
Deanna Partin and Tabor are two of 82 Giles graduates in the program.
"Now I can go into my first year of college without having to worry about all of the debt I'm going to be in. It helps me focus on school,” Partin said.
“People who have to worry about college have to work more and there are a lot of people in my classes who are doing two or three jobs right now and are trying to fit studying into their schedule,” Tabor said.
The Muddy ACCE (Access to Community College Education) race, now in it's second year is attracting hundreds of people across the state to take on the 30 plus obstacle course 5K challenge.
Money raised during this event helps pay for all Giles County High School seniors, including graduates of public, private and home school, to go to college as long as they can earn a certain GPA and do community service. Most of which is spent building the Muddy ACCE course, and obviously testing it out.
Cora Gnegy, tourism and marketing director for Giles County said the program has been instrumental in building the county’s local economy.
"The program has seen a lot of kids that have completed their two years and gone on to a four-year school, or gotten their certificate and continued into the workforce completely debt-free," Gnegy said.
Students who return to Giles Gnegy said, help build an educated workforce within the county, On average, students in this program perform better than their peers, not just on the obstacle course, but in the classroom with a higher GPA.
"So these kids are dedicated to the program; they understand that their scholarship came from a lot of hard work and a lot of community support, so they really stepped up,” Gnegy said.
The Muddy ACCE race runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Glen Lyn park in Giles County.