Fam­ily to hold 5K for kids with dis­abil­i­ties

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­ian Den­nis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

“Ev­ery­one wants their child to have the op­por­tu­nity to flour­ish and en­gage with their world.”

That’s what Martrese Schwartz, a Gil­bertsville res­i­dent, had to say about rais­ing her soon-to-be 8-year-old son, Ethan, and why she’s de­cided to do ev­ery­thing she can to help him do that.

Ethan Schwartz was born with a con­gen­i­tal heart de­fect and de­spite four sep­a­rate heart surg­eries, rang­ing from 8 days old to just over 2 years old, doc­tors were un­able to re­pair Ethan’s heart. Weeks af­ter his sec­ond birth­day Ethan suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest which led to a se­vere anoxic brain in­jury. He is now wheelchair bound with Spas­tic Quadraplegic Cere­bral Palsy.

“He’s a typ­i­cal, al­most 8-yearold boy,” ex­plained Schwartz. “He likes su­per­heroes and Star Wars and does not like any­thing girly or baby. He has plenty of at­ti­tude. Even though he’s non ver­bal he com­mu­ni­cates well. His eyes tell you a lot. He’s got­ten very ex­pres­sive with smiles and smirks and goofy faces. He meets ther­a­pists

and nurses and they all kind of fall in love with him.”

Schwartz ex­plained that keep­ing up with Ethan is of­ten tough, as he re­quires a large amount of ex­pen­sive equip­ment to live a nor­mal life.

“He has a lot of med­i­cal equip­ment and ex­penses. We have been able to get him more com­fort­able at home but I drive him to school ev­ery day be­cause of his med­i­cal sta­tus and it’s in Swarth­more,” she said.

That’s why Schwartz and her fam­ily have been run­ning a 5K and fun walk that will be re­turn­ing for its fifth year in Oc­to­ber.

Ethan’s Heart Jour­ney 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk be­gan five years ago in West Ch­ester and has since moved to River­front Park in Pottstown.

The fam­ily added the 5K to the fun walk af­ter re­al­iz­ing the gen­eros­ity of many run­ners that par­tic­i­pated in 5K runs in the area. The event fea­tures games, face paint­ing and raf­fles in ad­di­tion to the run and walk.

“When I started think­ing about it, I wanted to have this ev­ery year to cel­e­brate Ethan. Shortly af­ter he came home we re­al­ized we will have a lot of ex­penses we didn’t even think about. We’re try­ing to stay ahead of them and keep up. Right now we have a wheelchair van but it takes a lot to keep them up. We also just found out we have to get him a new wheelchair.”

This year, how­ever, the fam­ily is tak­ing it a step fur­ther and split­ting the pro­ceeds from the 5K with Ethan’s school, CADES Ge­orge Crothers Memo­rial School, so that other chil­dren can also re­ceive some as­sis­tance. The funds will help the school pay for ac­tiv­i­ties, sup­plies, tech­nol­ogy, adap­tive equip­ment and ser­vices for the chil­dren.

“It’s such a won­der­ful thing be­cause the com­mu­nity came around him and we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing the com­mu­nity has done for us. We’re at a point now that we can share the sup­port with the school,” said Schwartz. “It’s amaz­ing what they do there. They have such good hearts with th­ese kids and he just ab­so­lutely loves go­ing to school. All of the kids there are highly de­pen­dent on equip­ment like Ethan.”

This year’s event will take place on Oct. 8 with the 5K be­gin­ning at 8:30 a.m. and walk-up reg­is­tra­tion at 7:30 a.m. The mile fun walk/run will be­gin at 10 a.m. fol­low­ing the 5K awards and raf­fle.

To regis­ter for the event, visit https://run­signup.com and search Ethan’s Heart 5K.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE SCHWARTZ FAM­ILY

From left, Martrese Schwartz, Ethan Schwartz, Ju­lianna Schwartz and Eric Schwartz, pose for a fam­ily photo at one of the pre­vi­ous 5Ks held at River­front Park.

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