Family to hold 5K for kids with disabilities
“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.
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.
Ethan enjoys music during school hours at CADES George Crothers Memorial School in Swarthmore, Delaware County.
Ethan sits with his aid from school, Lorraine Thornton.