Erie area runners rock, draw awareness to autism

   April 16, 2012 4:24 am

 

April is Autism Awareness Month but, for one local runner, creating an awareness of autism is an everyday thing.

Karen Groshek, 38, is the mother of two sweet boys, 12-year-old Jack and 15-year-old Erik who is severely autistic.

Karen Groshek and her son, Erik.

 

“Erik was diagnosed at age 2,” Karen said. “Jack (who does not have autism) is in 7th grade and runs cross country for St. James. He is a very supportive little brother.”

Karen said she began running three years ago.

“I started for weight loss reasons, but then I fell in love with running and racing.”

No doubt. Karen has been tearing up local race courses. She’s now racing at a sub-8-minute mile and will be doing her first half marathon in Cleveland in May.

Cleveland or bust!

More than a dozen Erie area runners will be joining Karen in Cleveland for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon/Half Marathon, which benefits autism research, including: Dan & I, Heather Dunkle, Rob Frost, Jenny Peters, Tom Bourne, Patrick Krott, Tom Twohig, Adam Rowe, Kristen Berquist, Jason Weismiller, Amy Morrow, Rob Kolodziejczak, Meghan Linstead, and Kelly Hilling.

And, thanks to Jenny’s efforts, we’ll all be wearing special “Erie Runners Rock” autism gear to show our support of Karen, Erik and autism awareness.

Karen and Jenny

“Dan Smith actually gave me the the idea to design shirts for all the runners from Erie who are going to Cleveland. We thought it would be fun to have some sort of ‘team apparel,’ since so many of us are going and, for many, it’s their first marathon or half marathon, which makes it even more special.”

You don’t, however, have to be going to Cleveland to buy this cool swag to show your support.  Items are available for anyone to purchase.

Several different apparel items are available, including: A regular cotton T-shirt ($9.25), a tech-shirt ($13), a women’s ribbed tank top ($13.20), a men’s sleeveless shirt ($13), sweatpants ($18.25), and even a fleece jacket ($33).  All the items are either red or black and have the “Erie Runners Rock” logo, a ribbon with Erik’s name, and the phrase “Crazy Together, Friends Forever.”

“Crazy Together, Friends Forever”

“Tom Bourne came up with that catch phrase,” Jenny said. “So many of us have become good friends. We all support each other and cheer each other on. I love how the design turned out!”

“The Erie group is such a unique and fun group,” Karen said. “Racing has really been an awesome way to meet other runners.  The friends that I have made are so special. It’s such a positive enviroment to be in. We’re competitive, but we all cheer each other on.”

 

Running helps

“Raising a child with autism is very stressful,” she said. “Running helps me relax and focus. It has truly changed my life.”

“I was so deeply touched and surprised that they wanted to include the autism ribbon and Erik’s name on the clothing,” Karen said. “It means so much to me.”

“My sister’s oldest daughter, my niece, Natalie, also has autism,” Karen said. “She is turning 14 in May, and it is a dream of mine to sometime have a race here in Erie that would benefit our local autism chapter.  I know runners would support it!”

Of course we would!

Want to order?

If you want to support Autism Awareness with some super cool custom-made Erie-centric athleticwear, contact Jenny Peters at jennyturak@ymail.com or email me at zipdang22@gmail.com & I’ll send you a PDF of the order form (If I could figure out how to attach it to this post, I would!).

Please note that orders MUST be in Jenny’s hand by Sat., April 21 (She’ll be a the Poker Run 5K). Also, please note that these items are custom-made so they cannot be returned (So, order carefully).

About autism: Autism is a spectrum disorder that ranges from mild to severe.  There is no known cause or cure for the disorder.  It affects as many as 1-150 children. Check out the local autism chapter at nwpa-asa.org for more info.

 

 

 

 

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