Event to promote therapeutic exercise program

Daily Sundial

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In an effort to continue providing long-term, low-cost therapeutic exercise programs for disabled students and community members, the Abbot and Linda Brown Western Center for Adaptive Aquatic Therapy in the Kinesiology Department, is hosting its fourth annual Run, Walk and Roll fundraiser April 30.

The center serves hundreds of clients and students each semester who suffer from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and strokes, but the challenge is to keep the programs running with limited government funding, said John Banola, Run, Walk and Roll coordinator.

The Run, Walk and Roll event, organized by the Friends of the Center of Achievement and Supporters, starts at 8:30 a.m. at CSUN, and consists of a 5K/10K race, children’s race, exhibits with exposition booths, raffles and a pancake breakfast courtesy of the North Valley YMCA, Banola said.

“This is probably the biggest CSUN student outreach event,” said Sam Britten, Brown Center founder.

Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward expanding exercise programs, adding children’s programs, hiring students and staff members and providing hands-on training for medical students, Banola said.

One of the problems in the past has been minimal campus participation in the Run, Walk and Roll event, and the Brown Center hopes to combat the issue by including a team race called the Centipede Theme Team.

In the team race, five participants and one floater display their club, fraternity or sorority letters or logos in a cohesive Chinese dragon-like costume, which must be completely intact by the end of the race, Banola said.

This year, a 92-year-old man named Johnny Holiday is looking to participate in the Run, Walk and Roll event, and the Brown Center is trying to get him to wear the number 92, said Carol Bennett, facility coordinator at the Brown Center.

The race takes place on a fast, flat course through and around the CSUN campus, beginning at the corner of Lindley Avenue and Plummer Street in front of the Brown Center, Banola said.

The Brown Center is currently looking for volunteers for the event to do a variety of things, including signing themselves or others up to race, pledging money for a participant, buying and selling raffle tickets or recruiting participants to race, Banola said.

About 45 years ago, the Brown Center was a mere dream for Britten, and after realizing that student training was limited at CSUN, evening exercise programs were developed, he said.

“Then we established a curriculum training program,” he said. “It just got bigger and bigger.”

On his six-month sabbatical researching facilities around the country, Britten said he envisioned the Brown Center exclusively for the disabled, but has since allowed the center to include programs for children when the available aquatic pool floor rises high enough to compensate for the children’s shorter height.

CSUN students, not just Brown Center clients, benefit from the center’s hands-on training, as there is always the possibility of a student being hired as a center employee, he said.

“A large amount of students go into the medical field, and they come to the center to get hands-on training,” Banola said.

Every year, there is an increased amount of participants in the Run, Walk and Roll event, giving the disability facility more exposure. Last year’s event hosted 1,400 participants and raised $50,000, said Bill Weinman, longtime client and volunteer at the Brown Center.

Since the Northridge Hospital closed their aquatic therapy pool to Arthritis inpatients, excluding a multitude of elderly people in the community, the Brown Center has opened its doors, offering disability patients an alternative place of treatment, Weinman said.

“I walked away from the Northridge Hospital … and came to the Brown Center,” Weinman said. “This is not something I’m going to walk away from.”

“We have the best facility in the country (located) at a university,” Britten said.

Participants may register online by by signing on to www.w2promo.com and paying a $20 fee by April 24. Participants may also sign up at the Brown Center, or on race day starting at 6:30 a.m.