The starting line of a race is a place to size up the competition. Get in the zone. Let the adrenaline rush.
In this race, to your left is a man in a wheelchair with his helmet strapped and racing gloves tightened. To your right, a blind woman readies herself for the start with her spouse ready to guide her.
A race open to able-bodied and physically or visually handicapped is an amazing experience, and one that Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) will sponsor for the fifth year, this fall. The race’s motto is, “Let no one sit on the sidelines.”
GLASA itself is a thriving organization that has become a haven for physically and visually disabled children and adults interested in recreational and competitive sports since its founding in 1993. The group serves not only northern Lake and Cook Counties, but also Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.
“We provide year-round and daily activities, and that includes special events, camps, competitions, daily coaching, for kids all the way to adults, who have a physical or visual disability. And within the last couple of years what’s new for us is our expansion serving our injured military,” says founder and executive director Cindy Housner.
GLASA is headquartered in Lake Forest, where its annual 5K Twilight Run/Walk/Roll & Post-Race Party is held. This year, the race will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 8, 2012.
GLASA has a one-of-a-kind award system that honors winners based on their abilities.
“We provide awards for all the different disability groups, and to my knowledge this is not being done anywhere else. Our divisions really go down to the physically and visually impaired. For physically disabled it goes all the way down to if you have a manual versus a specialized wheelchair, or if you are an amputee,” says Housner.
The race is also CARA-certified, which means that competitive runners can use it as a qualifier for marathons and other races.
However, competition is not the only aspect of the race.
“Even if you have a disability or if you don’t have a disability, everybody can participate! And it’s fun. You don’t have to be competitive. Come outside and be active and be healthy. This is a way to have fun and socialize,” says Housner.
To register for the race, and for more information on GLASA, please visit glasa.org/twilight.