• Megann Horstead

Annual race supports physically disabled, visually impaired


They ran, they walked, they rolled. Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association kicked off its eighth annual Twilight Run, Walk and Roll 5K on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Gordon Community Center in Lake Forest.

New developments arising while organizing the Twilight 5K revealed a partnership with the North Shore Race Series, making it one of four races being sponsored by Chicago Area Runners Association.

“We’re always expanding our reach,” said Cindy Housner, executive director and founder of GLASA, noting that promotion to local running clubs and social media also play a part in why the event sees such widespread participation.

On average, the 5K Twilight Run, Walk and Roll brings in close to 400 runners, but in reviewing this year’s numbers, there were more than 400 people competing.

“It’s the race, friendships, competition,” she said. “Being that it’s our 8th annual run, people really look forward to it and seeing the friends they’ve met here the year before.”

The event also saw a number of returning runners including Danielle Tonim, a resident of Beach Park.

She said she feels compelled to race again in part because it’s a good time and it allows her to run alongside good people for a good cause.

Those competing in the race were not only residents of the greater Chicago area and its suburbs, but places such as Wisconsin and Indiana were among those represented as well.

Phil LaCourte, of Valparaiso, Ind., was competing in the race with 25 chief petty officers for the Navy Operational Support Center Chicago as a group.

He said they sang songs while running through the course in hopes of motivating others at the event to keep moving.

“I hope it brings people together,” he said, noting that he likes how the event allows them to bond and create a sense of community.

The evening’s post-race celebration allowed people to mingle amongst one another, enjoy live entertainment and play games.

Ruby Zarling, of Hoffman Estates, was hanging out after the race with her son.

She said while her husband has participated in a number of 5K Twilight Runs, this was her first time attending and she was enjoying it.

“It’s a great platform,” she said, noting that she loves the idea of bringing together people, whether able bodied or disabled, in an effort to support a good cause.

Darius James, of Chicago, was chatting with a group of fellow petty officers for Navy.

He said while he’d never competed in the 5K Twilight before, those in Navy training attend annually.

“It’s very inspiring to see everyone get out there,” noting that all people have obstacles but the hope is we push beyond them.

He added that he looks forward to returning to the 5K Twilight Run next year.

Housner said she hopes the event makes people more aware of sports and recreational opportunities for individuals who have a physical disability or visual impairment.

Races, such as the 5K Twilight Run, Walk and Roll, offer opportunities and introduce an element of accessibility that otherwise may not be available for those living with physical disabilities or visual impairments.

She said the hope is people will hold an increase understanding and awareness for some of the difficulties faced by those living with physical disabilities or visual impairments.

“People see that regardless of whether you have a disability that you can still go out, you can still race and you can be competitive,” she said.

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