Run For Holland And Awareness
When life throws a curve ball it’s up to the batter to react. When a curve ball was thrown to Spruce Pine couple Adam and Brooke Burleson they turned it into an event to impact an entire community.
The couple have organized a 5k run on April 26 in Spruce Pine to raise awareness for individuals with Down syndrome and other physical and mental disabilities. The event, called Run for Holland, is named after both their daughter Holland, who was born with Down syndrome, and the short story that changed their lives.
A year ago while Brooke was pregnant with their daughter, the Burlesons discovered there was a 99 percent chance their daughter would be born with Down syndrome. The ensuing weeks were a blur for the Burlesons who had many questions and uncertainties on what the future held for them and their daughter.
One day the couple received an email from their genetic counselor containing Emily Perl Kingsley’s “Welcome to Holland”, a story about having a child with a disability. The story uses a metaphor of excitement for a vacation in Italy that becomes a disappointment at first when
the plane instead arrives in Holland.
“It’s just a different place,” an excerpt of the story reads. “It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills and Holland had tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.”
The story gave them a new positive outlook on the situation and inspired them to name their daughter Holland, who was born last August.
Adam Burleson, an avid runner for three years, said he had wanted to organize a race event in Spruce Pine for a while. His daughter’s birth served as the catalyst for an event to raise awareness for physical and mental disabilities. While planning for the event they met members from the running community who also had children with similar disabilities.
“We got the ball rolling, had a goal in mind and shot for it,” said Burleson. “Everything kind of barrel-rolled at once.”
Burleson said more than 130 people have signed up to participate so far. At the current rate he expects about 300 in all to be registered by race day.
The 5k begins at First Baptist Church. Runners will go along Greenwood Road and loop through English Woods before crossing the Highland Avenue bridge into downtown. Runners will pass through the Blacksmith Festival first on Upper then Lower Street before crossing the bridge again and capping the race off with a loop around Riverside Park.
Donations can be sent via check made out to Spruce Pine Lions Club with Run for Holland in the memo space. However, Burleson said he encourages everyone to participate in the race even if they walk.
“I challenge everyone to try and walk it,” said Burleson. “Everyone can walk a 5k. The point of the event is for people to interact with those who have disabilities and to raise awareness.”
The 5K race will start at 8 a.m. and registration opens at 7 a.m. Cost to participate will be $27 if registered by March 31, $30 by April 23 and $35 by race day. Cost to register for the one mile fun run will be $15 by April 23 and $20 afterwards until race day. Persons with disabilities can register for free at any time.
Article originally written by Andrew Mundhenk in the March 24, 2014 Mitchell News Journal