Running for a cause

Five-mile Run the Gates race will raise money for local organizations serving the disabled community

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Three Bucks County non-profit organizations have joined forces for a great cause. The 12th annual five-mile Run the Gates race is taking place June 4 at Forsythia Crossing Park in Levittown. Proceeds are split equally among the Center for Independent Living of Bucks County, Handicapped Crusaders and Delta Community Supports Inc., all of which serve people with disabilities.

Happy feet: The 12th annual five-mile Run the Gates race is taking place June 4 at Forsythia Crossing Park in Levittown. The Run the Gates five-miler had 250 runners last year and organizers expect an even greater turnout this year. PHOTO: Theresa Katalinas

For all three organizations, fundraising events such as Run the Gates are significantly important since there is no charge for their services. The Center for Independent Living receives partial funding from the state, though this has gone down in recent years.

In its 11th year, the Center for Independent Living assists the disabled in four, soon to be five, key areas, including advocacy for the disabled, independent living skills, peer support groups, an information and referral library and transition services. While they won’t do things such as provide housing, the Center will equip its clients with the necessary tools to do so on their own.

“We will do everything with the client but nothing for them,” Center for Independent Living board member David Rogers said.

In Bucks County, according to Rogers, there are a number of individuals in their 60s who have always lived at home with their parents because of mental or physical disabilities. But the parents are getting older and soon won’t be around to take care of them. The Center works with the family to help prepare the son or daughter to live independently, teaching them basic life skills such as cooking or using the washer and dryer.

“We give them the tools they need to begin functioning on their own,” he said.

The Center for Independent Living’s newest program will be the transition service, which assists those with disabilities, especially autism, after they are kicked out of the education system at the age of 21. The structure school provides is important, and when that disappears, it can be disconcerting. The transition service helps them prepare for independent living while they are still in school and even a little bit after. One of the biggest issues Rogers sees is lack of financial knowledge, so the Center teaches them the basics of writing a check and making a deposit.

A large portion of the money raised at Run the Gates is used toward implementing these new services, and while every dollar is important because of the funding cutbacks, the Center puts some toward scholarships for Bucks County Community College students. Five $750 scholarships are awarded each year to students who have disabilities or are planning to study them.

To increase funding this year at Run the Gates, the Center for Independent Living is partnering with Peruzzi Nissan of Falls Township to sell $50 raffle tickets for a chance to win a 2017 Nissan Altima. Only 700 tickets are being sold, and some are still available.

Handicapped Crusaders provides social activities for physically and mentally challenged adults through monthly meetings, participation in crafts and games, guest speakers and other activities. Delta Community Supports Inc. provides support to men and women with developmental/intellectual disabilities, and children and families in need of foster care and adoption services.

Awards will be given to the overall male and female winners in the five-mile, as well as first-, second- and third-place finishers in various age categories from under 14 through over 70. One-mile race awards are offered for the top three male and female.

For Rogers, it’s all about raising money for a good cause that he has personal attachment to. His daughter is disabled, and though she is 50 years old now and doing well, he previously had no idea where to turn for support.

“The Center for Independent Living is one of the best kept secrets in Bucks County,” he said. “Our mission is to provide help to a family.” ••

If you go:

Registration is open through the morning of the race. Cost is $40 for the five-mile and $30 for the one-mile.

The race is on June 4 at Forsythia Crossing Mark in Middletown Township. Onsite registration and packet pickup will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., with the five-mile run beginning at 9 a.m. The one-mile run/walk will begin at 9:05 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow at approximately 10 a.m.

To register, visit raceit.com/Register/?event=39257#.

Raffle tickets can be purchased by emailing info@cilbc.org or calling 215–781–5070, and either picked up at the Center for Independent Living, 1200 Veterans Highway #820 in Bristol or mailed.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com