Walk and 5K celebrates real-life superheroes, raises money for the Schwartz School

Sep 23, 2018

After hosting a telethon to benefit the Schwartz School earlier in the year, Brayden Garcia knows how to spot a camera and make the perfect pose -- and help out his fellow students.

The Dartmouth resident was one of more than 250 runners and walkers in this year’s Superhero Walk and 5K Race, held at Fort Taber Park and the South End of New Bedford on September 23. Walking with his family and nursing staff, it was quite the exciting time for Garcia.

“You know Brayden, Brayden loved it just like he loved the telethon,” said Brayden’s father, Ben Garcia. “He’s out here and he’s been all smiles.”

Brayden was diagnosed with Down syndrome and spent the first few months of his life in the hospital, and now receives regular rehabilitative treatment and attends school at the Schwartz School.  It was the family’s first time participating in the event, which is now in its 30th year.

“It was great, and it was fun,” Garcia said. “The kids loved it, and and it’s a great reason to come out here and support the Schwartz Center.”

A central theme of the Superhero Walk and 5K Run, as its name suggest, is celebrating the real-life superheroes who overcome adversity through the Schwartz School’s locations in Dartmouth and New Bedford.

The center provides early intervention, early childhood education, and physical therapy and rehabilitation services for children and teens with special needs. 

“It’s about the parents and the kids: They’re real superheroes,” said Meeting Street President John Kelly. “The stuff and the challenges they’re dealing with… we take so many things for granted, and it’s an honor to work with them, and it’s inspiring to see the challenges they’re facing and how they meet them head on.”

Each participant was provided a cape to wear, but many brought their own superhero attire with them, from T-shirts and logos to full costumes.

Derryck and Brittany Coleman, who ran in the 5K race, chose The Incredibles as their superhero inspiration. The Warwick, R.I. residents are avid runners who got the idea from their recent races at Disney World, Brittany works at the Schwartz School, making the run especially meaningful.

Derryck was last year’s top finisher, but this year he was bested by Jared Correia of New Bedford.

“I did it last year, and it was a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause,” Correia said.

Many of those participating have seen firsthand the work the Schwartz School does. That included Dr. Jessica Rome, who works at Pediatric Associates of Fall River. She recruited more than 20 members of her staff, and plenty of kids, to participate.

“This is just such an awesome group, and we have a lot of patients who go to the Schwartz School, so we’re very excited to support them,” Rome said.

The Superhero Walk is a 30-year tradition, but the 5K component was added in the past few years, Kelly noted. Kelly said last year the event took in $45,000 -- an amount he expects will be broken this year.

The Schwartz School and Meeting Street works with more than 5,000 children and families annually through its programming. Funds raised through the event will go towards funding its programs.