The 39th Annual Bert M. Warden's Golden South Classic went on without a hitch on May 23 at The First Academy.
The Florida summer sun did not deter the approximate 800 athletes who participated in the event, which was held from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Volunteer UCF, an organization that is dedicated to promoting civic engagement and education for students, was at the event at 9 a.m., and the participating members were recognized for their time, receiving a free Adidas shirt, a meal and one free SeaWorld ticket.
The Golden South Classic is an international track and field event for high school students. Students compete in various competitions, including pole vaulting, hurdle jumping and timed running as part of the Adidas Golden Stripes Tour.
The tour is a series of three regional meets where athletes can earn a spot to compete against the country's fastest prep runners in the Dream 100 and Dream Mile at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York.
Geo Morales, media relations and public affairs manager for the event, said it is a long-standing tradition at the event for the team at Arnold Palmer Hospital to bring these elite track athletes together for a memorable tournament.
Students compete in two divisions, Prep division and Classic division, and are separated by gender and qualifying standards.
Prep division is offered to athletes who do not meet the qualifying standard that the Classic division athletes come in with. They can compete in all events except relays. Qualifying standards are marks, or times, to meet or beat in order to advance to the next division.
Medals were awarded to athletes that ranked in first through sixth place in each of the Classic division events, and first through third place in each of the Prep division events. Adidas also gave each participant a gift for competing in the classic.
Mary Bozzacco, a junior health sciences major and different abilities director for Volunteer UCF, was the lead supervisor for the group of 21 volunteers that showed up to the classic. Volunteers were asked to complete duties, such as assist the pole vault, set up the blocks for the races, move around the hurdles and hand out fans and noise-making objects to the spectator.
Bozzacco said that although her job responsibilities were to primarily oversee the other volunteers and help them with their task, she enjoyed setting up the track for hurdles the most because she was able to watch the races up close.
While she understands that students usually volunteer for required hours, Bozzacco said the act of volunteering can offer so much more for students.
"The knowledge volunteers gain can change how they treat other people or how they see the world," she said. "Through volunteering, students are able to give back to the community while creating friendships, learning new skills and gaining knowledge they will keep with them throughout their lives."
Along with Bozzacco's contribution, the APH executive committee of volunteers have dedicated a year to plan the event.
The event has been managed through the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation for the past 39 years, and 100 percent of the proceeds — gathered from registration fees and entry fees — go toward the Sports and Medicine Program at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Tracy Choroco, foundation event planner manager for the event, said they raised more than $140,000 last year and was pleased with the recent event, especially the rise in participation.
"All of us are extremely excited about Golden South," Choroco said. "We're excited that the word is getting out about the meet and all the benefits that it has for kids in the area, local and kids traveling from out of state."
Amelia Truong is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @AmeliaTruong or email her at AmyT@CentralFloridaFuture.com