Pupils' strides help cause

Tradition: Elkridge Landing Middle School participates in BWI's annual run and walk, which benefits people who have Down syndrome.


September 08, 2004|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the past eight years, Elkridge Landing Middle School has had the largest contingent of schoolchildren in the BWI Airport 4 Mile Run & 2 Mile Family Walk, which raises money to help people with Down syndrome.

This year, pupils such as Lindsay Rabe, a 13-year-old Elkridge Landing eighth-grader, are determined to continue the tradition.

"I've been participating since I was in the third grade, and it's a good cause because we get to help people," said Lindsay.

The race, in its 18th year, is to begin at 8:50 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Midfield Cargo Complex at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The event, which raises more than $30,000 each year for Kennedy Krieger Institute's Down Syndrome Clinic, is organized by Wayne Malone, a Northrop Grumman employee whose son, Jared, receives treatment at the clinic.

About 1,000 walkers and runners are expected to participate in the event, including 350 students from Howard County.

Lindsay said that although winning prizes, such as round-trip MARC train tickets to Washington, has been an incentive, it is not the most important reason to take part in the event.

"It's really a blessing to participate and just show our support for [people who benefit from the clinic]," said Lindsay.

Michaela Chiarella, 13, has also taken part in the race for the past five years with her family.

"It's an important event because we get to help people," said Michaela, who won a trip to Florida two years ago through a raffle affiliated with the race.

The event has become well-known for the many amenities, awards and prizes associated with it.

For example, walkers and runners, who must pay registration fees to enter the race, are treated to a continental breakfast. Water stations are set up along their routes, and participants are eligible for raffles, including round trips to Orlando, Fla., and a golf foursome to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Entertainment is provided, and the course offers views of airplanes taking off and landing.

Carol Jones, the physical education teacher at Elkridge Landing, said the event is important to the school, which has full inclusion of pupils with disabilities in its classes.

"We have students with varying disabilities, some in wheelchairs and some with Down syndrome in our classes, and this is a great opportunity for students to help children with special needs and to promote community spirit," said Jones. "It also promotes physical fitness for students by either walking or running in this race."

For the past nine years, Jones has coordinated the participation of pupils and the families at the school, which has 300 to 350 people involved in the event.

"This is just such a fun event," she said.

Proceeds benefit research and treatment programs at the clinic, including a Girls' Group, a social club for adolescent girls with Down syndrome; the Howard County Down Syndrome Parent Group and the Chesapeake Bay Down Syndrome Group.

The event is primarily supported by Grumman and BWI, along with other sponsors.

Allison Nadelhaft, spokeswoman for Kennedy Krieger, said the race plays an integral role in helping the clinic.

"It's imperative to keeping the research up-to-date," she said.

To register for the race: www.sensor.northgrum.com/bwirace, or 410-993-RUNN.

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