Families, runners and supporters came out in droves to run the Color Me Rad 5K event at California’s Great America on April 5. The run, which benefitted the Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) in Santa Clara, was one of the most vibrant events of the year, as runners were blasted with blue, green, pink, purple and yellow “Color Bombs” at different points throughout the course.
Leading off the run was Joseph Jacobson, the PACE ambassador of the day. When the signal was given, he was the first runner to hit the course alongside his parents.
“I feel accomplished,” said Jacobson. “I was able to lead the run at the start and I feel kind of tired afterwards … I feel pretty colorful. It was really fun.”
Although Jacobson led the 9 a.m. wave of runners (there was a second group who began at 9:20 a.m.), the first finishers of the initial wave were Abin Thomas of Santa Clara and Steve Loughlin of Los Altos. The pair paced each other and finished around the 21-minure mark.
“We became friends on the run,” said Loughlin.
“We just met each other,” said Thomas, a student at Sunnyvale’s The King’s Academy, who admitted that he would be running in a track meet later in the day. “I started running and there was this 13-year-old kid who was going really, really hard [next to me] … then he slowed down and Steve came up.”
“And we started chatting,” added Loughlin who said he came with his wife and a bunch of her friends, but that he and Thomas ending up becoming fast friends throughout the course. Both men were happy with the run and eager to participate again.
Although Color Me Rad was a vivid display of fun and community, it was PACE that benefitted the most from the event. According to Kurt Ohlfs, the executive director of the organization, the center typically raises about $15,000 from the run.
“This is actually our third year running with Color Me Rad,” said Ohlfs, adding that PACE provided many of the event volunteers. “They just started it three years ago. It was around the April timeframe and that’s Autism Awareness Month. They found us and we’ve had a colorful partnership with the race ever since.”
Ohlfs was not only pleased with California’s Great America as the venue, but loved how the event tied into PACE’s focus on the community. “Autism is something that just isn’t about an individual,” he said. “It’s about everybody around them that supports them. The grandparents, the siblings, the parents and neighbors, the community people – they all make up the awareness and the community that helps out the students we work with … I just think that when you look around, everybody just has a good time and I think that’s really important. It’s a large part of what community is all about. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the site in the middle of Santa Clara.”
To learn about PACE and its programs, visit www.pacificautism.org. Visit www.colormerad.com to find other race locations.