SYKESVILLE â€” One of Jefferson County's first weekends of sunny and temperate spring weather arrived just in time for the 34th Annual Run/Walk for Someone Special event in Sykesville, which raises money each year for The Arc of Clearfield and Jefferson Counties' Camp Friendship program.
This yearâ€™s total was $63,400, including money from a Saturday night Zumbathon and Sunday food sales, raffles, donations and sponser money turned in.
After a bit of audience participation Sunday, Pat Mowrey, one of the event organizers, said, "We were very, very blessed with the weather. Nobody got hurt. The Good Lord took care of us. We're so grateful for that. ...We're very, very grateful to everyone who walked and participated, and we're also grateful to the ones who gave money to the ones who participated."
A total of 567 participated this year, compared to 524 in 2012.
Mowrey thanked the Sykesville firefighters for contributing the outside tent, used for the first time this year, as well as REACT and the Sykesville Police for all of their help with the event.
This year's Run/Walk also featured a number of additional activities, such as face-painting and visitors ranging from the Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot to Punxsutawney Phil to Scooby Doo.
There were a number of prizes, too, including four Taylor Swift concert tickets and a silent auction.
The event kicked off on Saturday night with a Zumbathon charity event.
"We're all very, very pleased to have had a wonderful day," Mowrey said.
The race kicked off at about 3 p.m., with runners and walkers of all ages and experience levels taking on one of two courses: a two-mile fun run/walk and a five-mile race.
The male and female winners of each race and their times are as follows:
â€˘ 2-mile race 1st-place finisher: Jake McGovern, 15, Scranton, Pa., 11:28.
â€˘ First female finisher: Stephanie Graham, 15, Rockton, Pa., 14:45.
â€˘ 5-mile race 1st-place finisher: Doug Craft, 52, Punxsutawney, 32:09.
â€˘ First female finisher: Dulcie Hanzley, 26, Pittsburgh, 41:43.
The second annual Gary G. Stormer award was presented to Frank Hetrick by the Stormer family. The award honors the memory of Gary G. Stormer, who was a dedicated advocate, supporter and volunteer for the annual Run/Walk for Someone Special.
This year's major sponsor was Robindale Energy, which donated $5,000 to the event and had its name placed on the back of the event's latest T-shirts, available to participants.
The Silver Sponsors for the event were Johnson Motors in DuBois, Comcast, Frank Roberts and Sons in Punxsutawney, the Sykesville Lions Club and Mike's Super Market in Brookville.
The Bronze Sponsors for the event were JR Resources in Ringgold, the Falls Creek Eagles, Brownlee Lumber in Brookville, Miller Brothers Furniture in Falls Creek, the Punxsutawney Masons and Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek.
Each participant gathered sponsors in order to join the race, raising money to go directly to The Arc of Clearfield and Jefferson Counties for its Camp Friendship program.
The top individual money collectors include Will Cuba, $8,631; Josh Golembiowski, $3,564; Jennifer Roberts, $2,000; Mark Sicheri II, $1,300; Ken Smith, $1,300; Julie Hoover, $1,200; John Orsich, $1,085; Linda Lyons, $1,000; and Isaac Hanzely, $840.
The top group money collectors include Willâ€™s Walkers, $11,826; the Arc Adult Program, $5,291; and S.S.C.D. School, Punxsutawney, $1,620.
Linda Kearney, a board member at Camp Friendship, said that it is a camp located on Oven Road in Reynoldsville and has been there for about 40 years.
It exists to serve children with special needs including developmental and intellectual disabilities.
There are three different camps: one for Punxsutawney, one for Brookville/Brockway (which DuBois kids also attend) and a special autism camp that's held every August.
"They go for a week and have all kinds of activities â€” art, music, outdoor skills," Kearney said.
They also have physical activities outdoors, and lunch is provided while they're there.
Groups come in to do enrichment classes for the kids. They take field trips on some days, such as to Farmer's Inn.
They also have one day where there's swimming.
The Punxsy camp is usually nine days, with one being spent at the parade.
The others are five days.
The autism camp, on the other hand, is a specialized camp specifically designed for children with autism.
"Every one of the activities that they have is devoted to their intellectual abilities, as well as physical fitness and occupational activities," Kearney said, adding that the teachers are all trained to work with children who have autism.
There is no charge, with all of the camp's services â€” transportation for attendees included â€” being underwritten with the support of Run/Walk for Someone Special.
"All the kids get to go for free and have a wonderful time," Kearney said.She added, "It really reinforces their development throughout the summer."
In many cases, the kids finish up school for the year, come to camp and then enter into whatever summer school programs their schools offer.
"It's different than going to a regular school because they're outdoors; they're doing fun-filled activities," Kearney said. "...It's just purely for enjoyment, and a lot of them really look forward all year to getting to be there."
If you have a child in Jefferson or Clearfield counties who has intellectual or developmental disabilities, and you are interested in having him or her participate, contact The Arc of Clearfield and Jefferson Counties' executive director Stacy Hanzely by phone at (814) 591-6622 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"If you have a child, and you want them to come, we welcome them," Kearney said.
For photos from the event, visit www.jcarc.org.
For a complete list of participants, visit www.runhigh.com.