By Colleen Mahoney
Athletes and families alike will come together on Aug. 6 to help raise money for the Children’s League with a 5K race and family fun walk.
Hosted by the League and the Kiwanis Club of Springville, the Christine Padasak Memorial Autism Awareness 5k Run and Family Fun Walk returns for its seventh year.
The event got its start after members of the Kiwanis had children in the League, one who was on the autism spectrum. With the need for additional resources, the parents funded an expert consultant to help.
“The Kiwanis club parents did it out of their own pocket … but wanted to make it an ongoing resource for other parents,” said Gerry Guild, autism resource coordinator at the Children’s League.
With that goal in mind, the two organizations created the 5K run and walk, which in its second year was renamed for Christine Padasak, a Children’s League volunteer who passed away. Guild explained that since then, the race has been instrumental in bringing in funding for instructional resources.
“There are a variety of ways we use the money … sending staff to workshops or conferences and buying instructional materials or teaching supplies,” Guild said. “It’s very much focused on teaching instruments.”
In addition to raising funds, Guild said the 5K helps to raise awareness for the Children’s League and the work it does. According to its website, the League is a center-based program that provides therapeutic and special education services for approximately 115 children with autism, Down Syndrome, multiple disabilities, language delays or learning difficulties. It also provides therapeutic and special education services for 50 children in their homes or in other community-based settings.
The League pulls students from 30 different school districts in Erie, Wyoming and Cattaraugus counties, and Guild said there is a pretty “broad range” of services the League provides, as they’re one of the only schools in the area serving children with special needs.
“The overarching goal [of the 5k run] is to raise awareness of what we do, especially for kids on the [autism] spectrum,” Guild said. “This is a huge help, in terms of doing things to provide additional resources. It’s a huge and positive benefit for us.”
In 2015, the event attracted about 160 runners and another 160 walkers, raising between $15,000 and $20,000 for the League. At the end of last month, the League had just 45 runners registered, but Guild said that typically the week before the event is when they get most of their registrations.
The run and walk begins at 9:30 a.m., starting and ending at the Children’s League at 393 North Street in Springville. Participants are welcome to sign-up on the day of the event and to attend the pancake breakfast taking place during and after the run. The pancake breakfast is open to the community, and there will be basket raffles, games for kids and bounce houses.
“The walk generates most of the funds… there’s a competition among the teams to see who can raise the most money,” Guild said. “It’s a good way to band families together.”
For more information on the Children’s League or the Christine Padasak Memorial Autism 5K Run and Family Fun Walk, visit www.tcl5k.kintera.org.