Members of the North County High School softball team participate in the team's first 5K 4 Cancer. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Most Saturday mornings, the North County softball team can be found on the field running through three hours of drills. This weekend, Coach Linda Parks had other plans for her squad.

“I’m a big believer of helping our community and helping our school,” Parks said. “Today is about making things bigger than ourselves.”

Fundraising is nothing new for the Knights. For years, the team has sold T-shirts to help raise money for both the program and a local breast cancer patient. Then last fall, Parks met Gino DeFilippo, 17, who had leukemia diagnosed last June, received a bone marrow transplant in October and has been unable to attend school for his senior year at North County. When he needed help in order to take the SAT, Parks, who is also a teacher at the school, administered it to him one-on-one. But she was inspired to do more.

“He kind of needs a positive thing to happen to him and this is one thing we could do,” Parks said. It would also be “a great team bonding experience while we do it, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

When Parks approached her team with the idea for a charity race, there was no hesitation. “The girls, as always, have jumped on board with anything I have ever asked,” Parks said.

With each player on the team encouraged to sign up at least 10 participants, almost 200 people registered for the first North County Softball 5K 4 Cancer, held Saturday in Linthicum Heights.

Originally, the team advertised that registration fees would be split evenly toward the softball program and toward DeFilippo’s treatment. “In the back of my head,” Parks said, “I knew that if the T-shirts sold well, I would at least give him 80 percent.”

In the end, Parks kept only $1 from each registration fee, which ranged from $20 to $30, and before the start of the race, she and the team presented DeFilippo with an oversize check for $1,400.

“If we made one day out of his whole treatment a little better, than it’s been successful,” Parks said.

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