More than 300 registered runners, walkers, friends and volunteers from all over the Pine Belt participated in The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at Southern Miss’s second Children’s Center Classic on Feb. 27.
The event covered Pride Field with games, music and runners participating in either a 10K, 5K or one mile run.
The fundraiser provides the funds and necessities needed for the full service trans- disciplinary program. Last year, the Children’s Classic raised more than $25,000, but the event far exceeded that total in a few hours alone.
The program serves children with a range of disabilities, including various communication and developmental disorders, such as Down Syndrome, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, autism, Rett syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, aphasia, apraxia and conditions related to premature birth.
Services provided by center include speech language therapy, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, special instruction and early oral intervention.
The center also serves as a training and modeling resource for university students and professionals.
Its services remain free to families of children in need through community resources and fundraisers with the help of private donors as well as legislative funding.
With the sponsors’ and runners’ support, the center is able to continue operation and serves more than one hundred children in south Mississippi with communicative and developmental disabilities.
“This event is a great way for the community to promote physical and mental health as well as give back to an even greater cause,” said 5K runner Jordan Williams, who also finished with his best marathon time.
“We work very closely as an integrated, trans-disciplinary team so that a child can get all of their goals looked at and we work towards that child’s maximum potential regardless of what their journey may look like,” said Sarah Case-Price, director of the Children’s Center. “As our signature event, we look forward to The Classic bringing the community together for a cause so near to our hearts.”
Price also said that the event will benefit children with developmental disabilities from birth to the age of five.
The money raised will go toward adaptive equipment for the center and the use of therapists.
Ledell Kraft, a speech pathologist at the center, said she is proud of the unique resources offered.
“This center is amazing for the things we are able to provide for the children, from versatile equipment to the children’s hand-painted medals that is awarded to the runners today,” Kraft said.
Sponsors of Saturday’s event included the Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg’s Provisional Class, which provided a carnival with train rides, a bounce house, face painting, a petting zoo and more. They also collected donations for the center and toys for therapists that provide services for the children.