Sean Glassberg (left) raised enough money for Dori Reafler, who has been diagnosed with CASK gene mutation, to have her own running chair through Racers for Pacers.
Racers for Pacers, a newly state-recognized non-profit organization providing disabled children with running chairs, is holding two informational meetings next week.
If interested in becoming a pacer, someone who pushes the running chair with child, the meetings are Sept. 11 at East Shore Athletic Club in Park West at 6 p.m. and Sept. 12 at Fleet Feet, 881 Houston Northcutt Blvd., at 6 p.m.
Training begins at the end of the month and continues to the Charleston Marathon and Half Marathon, which is Jan. 18. Coach Mel O'Keefe, who is in charge of training and fundraising, will direct the informational meetings.
Each runner is responsible for raising $500, which includes the race entry fee for the Charleston Marathon or Half Marathon and a pre-race pasta party. “Racers for Pacers is dedicated to raising funds to provide running chairs for severely disabled individuals who cannot run on their own,” executive director and founder Sean Glassberg said.
“The goal of this organization is to provide these individuals with the opportunity to participate in running activities to include running with a pacer on a regular basis at least once or twice per week and in local 5Ks, 10Ks or longer runs throughout the Lowcountry.”
Glassberg founded the organization after becoming inspired by a Sports Illustrated article on Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick is the father of Rick, who has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. Rick asked his father to run a hometown fundraiser 5K race with him.
After completing the race, Rick typed into his communication device, “Dad, when I am running, I don't even feel like I am handicapped.” The pair have become well known fixtures at marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and Ironman triathlons.
Glassberg raised money to purchase a running chair for Katherine Holladay, a local 9-year-old girl with diagnoses of seizure disorder, blindness and marked developmental delay. They ran together in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run, as well as other local 5Ks and 10Ks.
“Most of these kids may not have a mom or dad that can spend the money or time to purchase a running chair and train, register and run in local 5K and 10K races,” Glassberg said. “For the parents and children running with pacers, we will provide them an opportunity to experience what Rick did the first time he 'ran' a race with his dad – not to feel disabled.”
When personal trainer O'Keefe joined Racers for Pacers at the end of 2011, the organization grew. In September 2012, O'Keefe recruited people interested in fundraising for Racers for Pacers while training for the Charleston marathons. By the end of the marathons in January, over 15 recruited runners raised over $10,000.
After combining that money with existing donations, Racers for Pacers was able to purchase three more running chairs. “These three chairs are now put to good use by three great kids in the Lowcountry – Dori, Noah and Brooke – each of whom have their own pacers who run with them,” Glassberg said.
For more information, attend the informational meetings and visit the Racers for Pacers website at www.RacersforPacers.org.