GLASA’s Annual Twilight 5K Run, Walk and Roll isn’t your average race. philanthropy-GLASA

Those with physical and visual disabilities are able to race side-by-side with able-bodied athletes and compete to achieve something they might not have thought possible. GLASA‘s motto, after all, is “Let No One Sit on the Sidelines.”

Thanks to the hard work of nearly 70 volunteers, along with donations and support from sponsors, the success of the race has grown year after year. Executive Director Cindy Housner and Development Coordinator Cherie Hrusovsky were both integral to that growth and helped increase funds raised from 2010 to 2012 by a jaw-dropping 400 percent.

GLASA works to promote the development and well-being of youth and adults with physical or visual disabilities by providing inclusive recreational, fitness and competitive sports. Regardless of ability, any person has the chance to participate in sports programs offered by GLASA. And for every dollar raised, $.91 goes to funding these empowering programs.

What inspired you to found GLASA?
“I was very fortunate in that I had seen other athletes in other areas of the country who have disabilities and just how sports can truly change one’s life,” Housner says. “When I moved to this geographic area there were very few opportunities for individuals with physical or visual disabilities, especially in the suburbs. Really what inspired me was other individuals I had worked with in the past who had received so many benefits from being involved with sports and recreational opportunities.”

Please tell us one of your favorite success stories.

Eleven-year-old Ethan Burkhart’s story is one that Housner calls life-changing. “He didn’t know that he could do this type of event, and now he’s so excited to do other sports,” she says. “It’s helped his self-esteem at school and feeling good about himself.”

Ethan, who has spina bifida, was adamant about not racing in the annual 5K, but his mom, Jennifer, signed him up anyway. After days of protest, Ethan finally agreed to join his mom and brother in the race just as they were walking out the door, Jennifer explains on her blog.

Not only did Ethan race and have a great time, but he placed first in his division, youth male handcycle.

“As parents, you want to see your child be a part of something,” Jennifer wrote in a testimonial letter. “GLASA is changing his life and also changing the way his able-bodied peers view kids with disabilities.”

What do you love about your work with GLASA?

“To me the most important part of this race is the awareness that GLASA gives to the community at large that there are no barriers. Our motto is ‘let no one sit on the sidelines’ and that’s what we want to show. We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”

By the numbers:

  • 2010: net income $4,799; 320 race participants
  • 2011: net income $15,811; 412 race participants
  • 2012: net income $21,192; more than 400 race participants
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