State College

Penn State athletes get Fit for Fritz

Penn State junior Rachael DeCecco, right, and freshman Grayson McCloy participate in the Fit for Fritz walk-athon on Sunday at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility.
Penn State junior Rachael DeCecco, right, and freshman Grayson McCloy participate in the Fit for Fritz walk-athon on Sunday at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility. psheehan@centredaily.com

In times of great trouble, it helps to continue to put one foot in front of the other — which is also not bad advice for walk-athon.

Fit for Fritz, the Penn State track and field team’s fourth annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Hershey, took over the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track on Sunday morning.

And honestly, it looked an awful lot like how you might imagine the average track practice.

Teams of four or five athletes walked brisk laps around the track and hustled their way through a grueling circuit of crunches, cone jumps and ladder drills — and for the most part, everybody seemed happy.

“We raise some money for a good cause,” Fritz Spence, an assistant coach and the event’s namesake, said.

Spence knows that of which he speaks. Fit for Fritz originated as an extension of the coach’s own battle with leukemia, a close call followed by a long period of remission followed by yet another close call.

We raise some money for a good cause.

Fritz Spence

Throughout treatment, the track team was a source of constant support and relief for Spence. His oncologists gave him permission to attend practices and meets.

“It gave me hope and something to look forward too,” Spence said.

Drawing strength from others was one thing, having someplace to keep them all was another thing all together. That’s were the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge of Central Pennsylvania entered the picture.

While Spence was receiving his treatment at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his family had a place to stay — free of charge.

“I wanted to give back to people who are in the same situation,” Spence said.

This year, Fit for Fritz is chasing a fundraising goal of $12,000 — fortunately in the company of people who are known for being rather fleet-footed.

Hannah Mulhern, who is part of the student committee that planned the event, said that they made a conscious effort to attract more people from throughout the community.

My favorite part is at the end of the event just seeing how happy Coach Spence is.

Hannah Mulhern

Be The Match, a national bone donor program, was once again on-site and hoping to add a few new names to the registry.

“It’s not painful, but those people could end up saving a life,” Mulhern said.

On the sunnier side of the spectrum, the committee also organized a dodgeball tournament featuring athletes from other varsity teams at Penn State.

Even with the new addition of dodgeball, for Mulhern,the best aspect of Fit for Fritz remains Fritz himself.

“My favorite part is at the end of the event just seeing how happy Coach Spence is,” Mulhern said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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