Running for literacy

Some people might not be able to fathom running a full 5K racebut how about one that's course is packed with giant cartoon characters, music, famous quotes on large lawn signs and actors recreating skits of well-known stories? The 2nd Read Run in Saratoga Springs is Sunday, June 13, and raises money and awareness for literacy in the Capital Region.

More than 55,000 adults in the area read or write below a fifth grade level, said Read Run coordinator Nancy Holzman. This prevents them from obtaining a well-paying job, being able to communicate well with medical providers and their children's teachers and makes filling out applications or reading signs intimidating.

Adults struggle with this very anonymously and many people don't understand that [their reading ability] has no bearing on their intelligence. These are very smart people who have an issue, whether it's a reading disability or they newly moved to this country," said Holzman.

Race proceeds will go to Literacy New York Greater Capital Region, which provides services to help these individuals, like one-on-one tutoring, small group instruction, reading, writing, math, preparation for GED and citizenship exams and small English as a Second Language conversation groups.

"These groups and classes enable people to practice their English fluency and give them greater confidence in their ability to navigate the community," said Holzman.

In its first year, Read Run had 400 runners and Holzman said she hopes to attract almost double that this year. To entice the community and make it a family event, Read Run has some unique plans. Clifford the Big Red Dog will be handing out free books to children, Froggy Radio's big green mascot will be giving away balloons, books and other goodies and Six Flags Great Escape donates prizes and sends Looney Tunes characters to cheer on runners. Families can get library cards and register for the 2010 Summer Reading Program, which will get them a Family Weekend discount on June 19 and 20 at Great Escape. Runners are even invited to run the race in their favorite literary character costumes.

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