The third annual Friends Stutter-Step 5K run/walk will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 14, in Genoa Township’s McNamara Park, 7049 Big Walnut Road, Galena.
Since McNamara Park doesn’t have 5K worth of trails, the course includes part of the Genoa Township Trail that runs parallel to State Route 3. McNamara Park serves as the start/finish line.
Profits from the event will go into a scholarship fund for families and students to attend an annual convention presented by a national volunteer nonprofit organization called Friends Who Stutter.
According to the event flier, Friends Who Stutter is “dedicated solely to empowering young people who stutter and their families. Our mission is to provide support and education to people who stutter, their families, and clinicians. We believe that every child, teen, and adult deserves to live in a world where they are accepted and empowered.”
To date, volunteers have raised nearly $20,000 at the first two Stutter-Step races, which have featured 200 participants from Sunbury, Delaware and Westerville.
Pat McDermott is a runner and race volunteer from Westerville whose son is a stutterer.
“Our organization is one that doesn’t really cure (stuttering). It’s where families gather and really talk about their issues with the disorder,” McDermott said of Friends Who Stutter. “There are speech therapists you can have sessions with. Some kids and adults grow out of it, others don’t. Usually it starts at 2 or 3 years of age.
“They haven’t really figured out a treatment for stuttering,” McDermott added. “They think it’s neurological, but can’t put their finger on it. There are ways to cope with it, different techniques to minimize it.”
Despite the disorder, McDermott said people who stutter can lead a normal life and most of the folks they deal with are accepting.
“There’s not too many people who know about it,” he said. “There are speech therapists in schools, but they’re few and far between.”
For the Stutter-Step, McDermott said T-shirts are available for participants, awards and medals are handed out to top finishers by age groups, and food is served following the 5K.
“For the runners, I would say it takes between 30 and 40 minutes” and about an hour’s walk to complete the course, he said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.