Join Blazing Trails For Autism Run/Walk

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Finalizing plans for the Sept. 9 Blazing Trails for Autism 4-mile run are (from left) GLIRC Executive Director Linda Ottaviano, Eden II Genesis parent Robyn Schneider, Eden II Genesis Development and PR Associate Christen Pellegrini, Eden II Genesis Associate Executive Director Mary McDonald and Andrew Motola, owner of race sponsor Brickwell Cycling and Multisports.

The Eden II & Genesis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides funds for programs and services that support individuals with autism, will hold its 10th annual Blazing Trails for Autism 4-mile run and 1.5-mile walk on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Great Neck South High School.

“We are excited to be having our 10th annual Blazing Trails Run/Walk,” said Dr. Mary McDonald, Eden II programs’ associate executive director. “It is a great day out for runners and walkers alike for a wonderful cause. The course in Great Neck is always a favorite and we are looking forward to a day of autism awareness.”

The family-friendly 4-mile run and 1.5-mile walk will begin at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine. The Blazing Trails race will take place on a USATF-sanctioned course on the rolling hills and scenic vistas of the Great Neck South Campus, as well as in picturesque areas of Lake Success.

“The challenging but fair 4-mile course covers pleasant residential roads in Lake Success before returning to the beautiful Great Neck South Campus to finish on the high school track,” said Mike Polansky, president of the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC), which manages the race. “There will be a 1.5 mile fun walk that will also be available for those who don’t want to try the 4-mile distance.”

Genesis parent Robyn Schneider, a Great Neck mother of twin boys with autism, spearheaded the Blazing Trails run after her sons began participating in mainstream races. Blazing Trails, which began as a way of raising awareness and funds for autism and the Genesis School, quickly gained support from the Great Neck community.

Blazing Trails set its first course after contracting with GLIRC. The inaugural race welcomed more than 1,200 runners, walkers and spectators supporting the Genesis School, and was broadcast live on Channel 7 Eyewitness News. Each year since, hundreds of runners have continued to support the event and the Genesis School.

“This year’s Blazing Trails 4-mile run has been accepted to be part of the 2018 USATF–Long Island Association Grand Prix of Road Races,” said Polansky.

Registration will be held from 7 to 8 a.m. on race day at a cost of $30. Preregistration will be available until Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9 a.m. for $25; $22 for GLIRC members at www.eden2.org/runregistration or 516-349-7646.

Proceeds will benefit the Eden II and Genesis Foundation, which supports programs serving children and adults with autism in Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City, including day schools for children and day and residential services for adolescents and adults.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Signs of the disorder are typically exhibited between ages 2 and 3. Currently, one in 59 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism, with boys being five times more likely to have autism diagnoses than girls.

Entrants will receive a commemorative hooded sweatshirt and snacks will be provided. Participants are invited to enjoy an after-race picnic. Local radio station WKJY-FM will play great music, along with other vendor surprises.

“There will be some great post race refreshments, including the ever popular array of baked goods supplied by All Round Foods, and musical entertainment will be provided throughout the morning,” said Polansky.

Awards in the 4-mile run will be presented to the top male and female overall and masters finishers, the top three male and female finishers in each of 17 age groups ranging from 12 and younger through 85 and older, the top three Clydesdale and Athena finishers in each of two weight divisions and the top three wheelchair finishers.

Blazing Trails will have lots of great bib prizes, and one lucky winner will be awarded the grand prize of a road bike with helmet and accessories valued at more than $500, which was donated by Andrew Motola, owner of Brickwell Cycling and Multisports.

Other event sponsors include Anton Media Group, EJ Foundation, Tekniverse, Planet Fitness, Panera Bread, The Haley Family, Genesis PTO, Joan and Fitz Reed, Great Neck Rotary, My Three Sons Bagel Café and All Round Foods.

Polansky is grateful to the Great Neck Public Schools, the Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Teresa Prendergast, Director of Athletics David Zawatson and Director of Facilities Alfred Cavallaro for their cooperation in staging the event at Great Neck South High School.

Learn more at www.eden2.org/run or contact Christen Pellegrini at 516-937-1397, ext. 1328, or cpellegrini@eden2.org.

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Sheri ArbitalJacoby brings more than three decades of publishing experience at national magazines to her position as editor of the Great Neck Record. She also writes decorating, travel, food and green articles for Long Island Weekly and Anton Media Group's special sections.

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