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Racing for scholarships against addiction

A one-mile fun run and walk will be held in Driver this Saturday to raise money for scholarships and awareness for substance abuse addiction and support in the community.

The first StrongWILL Charity Scholarship Fund Run will be held on Saturday at the Suffolk Seaboard Coastline trailhead in Driver, 3160 Kings Highway. Registration costs $15 and includes a medal, race bib, light refreshments and children’s prizes.

There are 36 registration spots still available as of Tuesday, according to April Brooks, founder and president of StrongWILL and co-organizer for this race.

Registration will be from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., and runners and walkers will set off on the trail at 9:30 a.m. Children will receive small prizes like Hot Wheels, Play-Doh and card games. They will also get to enjoy Driver’s Touch-a-Truck festivities, which begin at 10 a.m. after the race.

Brooks founded StrongWILL in memory of her brother, William “Doug” West, who died from a heroin overdose in April 2016. She and her family organized StrongWILL’s first fun run and walk in October 2016 during the Driver Days festival.

The organization raises awareness about drug addiction and helps people struggling with addiction by raising money for local organizations that provide resources for addicts and their families.

The event on Saturday will raise support for the inaugural William “Doug” West StrongWILL Scholarship Essay Contest. The winner will receive a minimum of $500, depending on total donations and participation in the event.

“We wanted to give seniors in local high schools the chance to think about addiction and what it means to them,” Brooks stated in an email. “We strive to help Hampton Roads fight the opioid epidemic with awareness and support.”

Applicants will have three possible topics to write about: their ideas on how to help conquer the opioid epidemic in Hampton Roads, how they have fought or plan to fight against substance abuse and addiction, and the message they would have for current addicts.

“This gives the younger generation the chance and ability to put forth their critical thinking skills and think about addiction as a young mind that is still being shaped and also give a new perspective. Also, this will help them with their college tuition if we found their essay to be the best submitted,” Brooks stated. “We hope with them writing their essay, it will, in turn, inspire them to go forward and assist with (the) opioid epidemic in our community.”

Applicants must have a legal and permanent address in Hampton Roads and must be a graduating senior at a Hampton Roads high school. Each applicant must have been accepted into a college or university, with a plan to enroll or attend by the fall semester.

Applicants should fill out and print application forms found online at strongwillevents.org. Each submission must include a copy of the applicant’s college or university acceptance letter and three copies of their essay, each signed with their first and last name.

These submissions need to be mailed by May 17 to StrongWILL, PO Box 7223, Portsmouth, Va., 23707.

StrongWILL is also sponsoring the 2019 Victoria “Tori” Dail Scholarship Fund for eligible, 2019 graduating high school students from Nansemond River, Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools, as well as Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

The award amount for this scholarship is $1,000, and the deadline to submit a complete application packet is Friday.

Register for the StrongWILL Charity Scholarship Fund Run at raceentry.com/strongwill/race-information. Visit facebook.com/strongwillevents.org and strongwillevents.org for more information on the William “Doug” West StrongWILL Scholarship Essay Contest and 2019 Victoria “Tori” Dail Scholarship Fund.