Making strides toward a good cause

Saturday race will raise money for sporting opportunities for disabled kids

Runners looking to spend their Saturday racing towards a good cause will have a great opportunity to race a picturesque course on June 25 at the second Strides 4 Stride 5K/2.5K Community Walk and Wheelchair Roll at the Corning Preserve at Albany's riverfront.

The event has a little something for every kind of athlete, with the 5K run followed by the shorter course for walkers and the wheelchair-bound kids Stride helps find recreational opportunities for. Jon Phillips, owner of Phillips Hardware, is organizing the event for the second year running, and will also be taking to the course himself this year.

Stride, based in North Greenbush, has for 25 years been providing sporting and recreational opportunities to disabled kids. It now covers 16 sports and activities, from bowling to sled hockey to skiing, and organizes about 8,000 events and lessons every year.

Phillips said his involvement with Stride, though it's only been for a few years, has been a life-changing one. That's why he's pledged to run the course and challenged Stride President Mary Ellen Whitney to also raise $2,000 in donations.

Like all the other nonprofits, we took a toll in losing a lot of sponsorships, he said.

Last year, the Strides 4 Stride event raised around $10,000. A lot of the program's sports require special equipment for the different needs of the participants, and as a not-for-profit, Stride relies chiefly on donations

Phillips will be doing the 5K along with his sons Tyler, 15, Connor, 12, and Dylan, 2. Dylan will have the easiest time in a jogging stroller.

The money the event raises isn't everything, though. Phillips said he's more excited about the opportunity to increase Stride's profile and connect more people with the kids the program serves. Phillips himself only learned about Stride a few years ago and has become increasingly involved, connecting local sports teams with the organization and holding fundraisers.

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