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Run4Kayla: Fundraiser to benefit two groups

By Staff | Apr 15, 2016

A 5K run and walk coming up next weekend will help raise funds for two Cape Coral entities.

The 3rd Annual Run4Kayla will take place on April 23 from 7:15 to 10 a.m. at Patriot Elementary School, with registration opening at 6 a.m. Last year, just under 400 total participants took part.

“I started it to give the special needs kids and adults a special day because there’s not really anything like that,” Charyse Smith said. “Something we can do for them to make them feel like rock stars.”

Charyse is the mother of Kayla Smith, 10, who has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

The Cape family also came up with the event to give back to two entities that they felt do so much for special needs children – Patriot Elementary’s Special Needs Department and Special Equestrians.

“Kayla has progressed so much since she has been there,” she said of the school.

As for Special Equestrians, her daughter has been riding since age 2.

“So they’ve been a huge part of her life,” Smith said. “They have been doing so much for so many years and mainly it’s made up of volunteers.”

She added that the Run4Kayla offers something for everyone.

“Competitive runners, joggers, walkers, special needs kids and adults,” Smith said. “It’s an event that everybody can be involved in, the whole community.”

Last year, the event raised about $7,600.

“We’ve raised over $15,000 the past two years,” she said.

This year, the event is on track to break that record.

“We really never think of a number,” Smith said when asked about this year’s goal. “We just hope we can do better than the year before.”

The opening ceremonies will kick off at 7:15 a.m., followed by the duo team race at 7:25 a.m. She explained that the duo team race is where the registrant pushes a special needs child or adult.

“It’s more like a competitive team,” Smith said.

Cost is $25 in advance for the registrant or $30 day of, but both participants get a T-shirt.

The 5K walk and run will start at 7:30 a.m. Cost is $25 in advance or $30 day of.

“We have a lot of people register the day of,” she said.

Last year, nearly 300 people signed up.

Children ages 12 and under have a chance to take part in the one-mile fun run at 8:15 a.m. Smith explained that it involves four laps around the track. Cost is $10 and includes a shirt and medal.

“Some kids will run one lap, some kids will fun four,” she said.

The wheelchair dash will wrap up the event at 8:30 a.m. and it is free for everyone.

“We have adults pushing manual wheelchairs around the track, we had a girl in crutches last year, everybody cheers,” Smith said. “It’s just so cool. The feeling and the happiness and the excitement.”

Every participant in the wheelchair dash will receive a medal.

The awards ceremony will follow in the school’s cafeteria. Like any typical 5K, awards will be distributed to the overall and top men and women, as well as within various age categories.

The Calendar Girls are scheduled to perform.

There will also be face painting, balloon makers, raffles and live music.

“The camaraderie, the family-like atmosphere and the happiness that you experience at this event is unlike what you’ll feel at other events,” she said. “It really leaves you with the best feeling.”

Smith encouraged people to sign up and take part or just come out and show support.

“It’s so rewarding to be a part of this,” she said.

To register in advance, visit online: www.run4kayla.com or stop by The Run Shoppe, at 1407 E. Cape Coral Parkway. Early packet pickup will be held at the shop on April 22 from noon to 6 p.m.

“Everybody’s getting a shirt and everybody’s getting a tote bag with goodies,” Smith said.

Those who cannot or do not want to take part but still want to help can donate $20 and get a shirt.

Volunteers are also still needed; contact Charyse Smith via the website to volunteer.

On April 8, the family hosted A night with Kayla to lead into the Run4Kayla. About 200 people attended the spaghetti dinner fundraiser, where Kayla’s story was shared and live performances were held. The family reported that $2,800 was raised, with proceeds going into the Run4Kayla fund.

Patriot Elementary School is at 711 S.W. 18th St.