On Sunday, April 23, hundreds of runners will be joined by dozens of wheelchair participants for the Rotary Club of Wellington’s second Outrun Cerebral Palsy Wellington 5K Run & Wheelchair Race, starting and ending at the Wellington Amphitheater.
Rotary is once again partnering with United Cerebral Palsy, with the new addition of the Village of Wellington as the presenting sponsor, to organize this unique race where those with cerebral palsy can also participate, with proceeds benefiting both the rotary club’s local charities and United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida.
Last year, more than 300 runners, walkers and wheelchair racers participated in the inaugural event. This year, co-chair Larry Kemp expects more than 500 individuals to take part.
“For the first year, it was very good,” Kemp said. “One of the exciting parts about it was we brought in racing wheelchairs from Atlanta.”
Those with cerebral palsy were pushed through the course by friends, family and designated helpers.
Though some of the riders were apprehensive in the beginning, by the end, they were having a great time.
“When they crossed the finish line, they had these huge grins on their faces. It was such a pleasure to see,” Kemp said. “That was one of the most exciting things about the whole thing.”
Co-chair Dr. Jon Chung was thrilled with the results of last year’s race and is looking forward to this month’s encore. Many of the participants, he said, have taken part in other races since last year’s inaugural event. “We’re really very proud of that,” he said.
This year, he hopes more wheelchair participants will take part in the race. Last year, about 15 individuals joined in chairs. This year, he’d like to see 25.
The emotional impact of participating in something like this 5K is invaluable, Chung said, particularly for those in wheelchairs.
“It gives them a really great opportunity to experience a recreational activity. A lot of these kids, and even adults, the only thing they get to do is just sit around and do sedentary activities,” he said. “They don’t get to experience the thrill of moving their bodies, and we can simulate that in a way that’s a lot of fun and makes them feel really engaged in an athletic type of way that’s really special.”
Pat Murphy, executive director and chief program officer of United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida, is excited to partner with the Rotary Club of Wellington.
“For us, this is a unique opportunity because the 5K ensures that people of all abilities are able to participate in this event,” she said. “There aren’t many athletic events out there that allow people of all athletic abilities to participate.”
The event is supportive of those with both physical and mental disabilities. “People with developmental disabilities are often seen for the things they can’t do, but we’re hoping we can educate people in the community, so folks can see people with developmental disabilities for the things that they can do, rather than focusing on the things they can’t do,” Murphy said.
Events like the Rotary 5K educate the community, Murphy explained, and are necessary for supplementing resources to keep needed programs up and running.
Being able to participate in a running wheelchair from Special Compass, she said, allows participants to experience the air in their face as though they are running.
Everyone who participated from United Cerebral Palsy is participating this year, and even more are interested, Murphy noted.
“I’m getting more calls each week from people wanting to participate,” Murphy said. “We’re excited to give this opportunity to people who otherwise would not have had this opportunity to participate in athletic events.”
Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig is going to start the race and will be presenting awards, Kemp said. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., and the race will start at 7:30 a.m.
After the race, participants are invited to enjoy live music from the Royal DJs, as well as food and drink from Jupiter Donuts, Strathmore Bagels, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s.
Registration, and sponsorship opportunities, are available at www.wellington5k.com. Sponsorship opportunities start at $250.
Current sponsors include: the Village of Wellington; FPL; Keystone Chiropractic; Florida Crystals; Earl Stewart Toyota; Prentrom; Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith Law Group; MediValue; Oil Change Services; Floridian Community Bank; Wellington Regional Medical Center; Allstate Insurance/Tom Neumann Agency; the South Florida Fairgrounds; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; CFL Kids Clinic; Leonard Baer Law; Tom Eastwood; Starbucks; Jupiter Donuts; Trader Joe’s; Strathmore Bagels of Wellington; KPA Promotions & Awards; and Sub Zero.
Registration for those 18 and older is $30; for those under 18, registration is $25. Teams are encouraged, and there will be special awards for the largest team. Registration packets can be picked up in advance on Thursday, April 20 at the Fit2Run in the Mall at Wellington Green.
For more information, sponsorship information or to volunteer as a wheelchair pusher, contact Kemp at email@example.com.