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Snowden-Richardson named Canada West Swimming’s Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner

VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes swimming teams had multiple podium performances at the Victoria hosted Canada West Swimming Championship, Nov. 24-26, but among the top performers was also a major award for fourt-year Vikes women's swimmer Taylor Snowden-Richardson. The Nanaimo, B.C. native was named the 2017 Canada West Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner following the final races of the conference championship.

In May 2017, Snowden-Richardson created Tay's Team, an initiative that supports children in hospitals. The Science major personally knits and crochets fun character hats for the children and is known for iconic superhero, Disney princesses and Pixar characters.

"This year a past family friend was diagnosed with leukemia at just six years old," explains Snowden-Richardson, who was motivated to make a difference. "I wanted to give him something to let him know that he was on my mind but as a student, I didn't have extra money to buy him a present. I decided to crochet him a super hero hat that he could wear to his chemo appointments when he started to lose his hair."

The six year old learned he  was unable to further participate on various sport teams and was disheartened he was not part of a team environment anymore. Snowden-Richardson used this to fuel her to create Tay's Team.

"The hope behind it is that when a child wears their hat they will feel a sense of community where people support each other both in and out of the hospital," added Snowden-Richardson.

To date the three-time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian has made and donated 104 hats to various hospitals in Nanaimo, Victoria, Calgary and San Diego, Calif.

In addition, Snowden-Richardson has spent time volunteering in both the pediatric and administrative unit in her home town hospital, the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Throughout the summer of 2017 she accumulated 100 volunteer hours and was highlighted by the hospital as 'Volunteer of the Month' for July.

Though her volunteer time is on hold through the Fall months due to school and competition, Snowden-Richardson will pick up her volunteer hours at the hospital over the Christmas Break, helping to decorate the pediatric unit and provide companionship to children in the unit.

Just prior to the 2017 Canada West Swimming Championship, Snowden-Richardson spearheaded the Vikes swimming team's collections for the Victoria Mustard Seed. The team collected nearly 400 non-perishable food items to help create Christmas hampers for low-income families in the Victoria area. Her hope is that this becomes an annual tradition for the Vikes swimming program.

Snowden-Richardson community service complements a well-rounded student-athlete profile as she was named to the Faculty of Science's Dean's List for 2016-17 boasting an 8.25 (out of 9) sessional GPA, while she is a three-time Vikes Honour Roll Recipient receiving 80 per cent or higher academically the past three seasons. In competition, she helped the VIkes to a bronze medal in the 4x200-m freestyle relay on Day 1 of the Canada West Championship and also competed in the 400-m and 800-m freestyle events. She has qualified for U SPORTS nationals for the past three seasons.

The Vikes women finished fourth overall at the Canada West Swimming Championship and Snowden-Richardson and her team mates will now prepare for the U SPORTS National Championship hosted by the University of Toronto in February 2018.

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