Running for a colorful cause in Othello

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Magali Valdez/courtesy photo - Volunteers manned 'color stations' at the Columbia Basin Health Association's 5K Color Run, tossing bursts of colorful starch at the 550 participants who took part.

OTHELLO — Over 550 people donned running shorts and white shirts Saturday for the Columbia Basin Health Association’s 5K Color Run For a Cause, which left runners speckled with reds, yellows, blues and greens after getting showered by vibrant bursts of colored starches.

The event raised funds and awareness for children with special needs, with information booths set up to spotlight different childhood conditions. Each information booth corresponded with a different color and focused on a different condition, including asthma, behavioral health, childhood diabetes, Down syndrome, autism, and spinal muscular atrophy.

Another booth, colored red, represented special needs as a whole.

“It’s important to acknowledge all childhood conditions that are challenging for families,” said Blake Barthelmess, vice president of business development for the CBHA. “It helps the community become more attuned and sensitive to those conditions, and in some cases more aware so we can come up with cures. Not all conditions can be cured, but certainly we can recognize them early so kids can seek treatment early.”

A diverse group took part in the event, Barthelmess said, ranging from high school students to families with strollers to retired couples who walked the five kilometers.

“It was cool to see how diverse the participants were, and how engaged they were,” Barthelmess said. “This kind of event brings the community together to participate in each other’s lives and support special needs children.”

To help support over 550 participants, 200 volunteers worked the color stations, registration and information booths, and distributed shorts to participants. A significant number of CBHA employees were among the volunteers, Barthelmess said.

The CBHA covered all costs for the event, and much of the money raised for the event will be donated to the Cure SMA foundation, Barthelmess said, though the CBHA is still assessing how exactly the money can be best distributed.

The CBHA also hopes to spend some of the money to fund scholarships, as well as specific things required by special needs children, such as durable medical equipment and wheelchairs, Barthelmess said.

“Our intention is also to provide several families in the area with something similar to the Make-A-Wish foundation, to provide a want and not just a need,” Barthelmess said.

Funds were raised from registration fees for participants and donations from organizations and businesses in the community.

For event organizers, any occasion to get community members together to rally around a common cause is an opportunity to do good works.

“We try to activate the community to celebrate physical health and well-being,” Barthelmess said. “We’re looking at how can we educate the community about these special needs, and how to recognize them and support families dealing with them.”

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