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Run assists disabled adults

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Christopher McMahan
Staff Writer

Pomona Valley Workshop, which helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities find employment, held their sixth annual run/walk fundraiser on Saturday at the Pomona Fairplex.

The PVW has provided services for disabled adults in nearly every county in Southern California since 1966.

They offer programs like the Adult Developmental Center, senior services, a work program and Supported Employment Services. Each program gives disabled adults the tools they need in order to succeed in the work force.

The run/walk was started six years ago after the program was looking for a fundraiser to be their signature event.

Mitch Gariador, who organized the run/walk for PVW this year, said the fundraiser is perfect because it involves the entire community.

“It’s a great event for us,” Gariador said. “It’s a great opportunity for our individuals with disabilities to come out and enjoy the day, run alongside their peers and it’s a fun day.”

This years theme for the fundraiser was “Celebrating Heroes” in recognition of the regular people who make an impact in their community.

“These heroes that we have in ordinary circumstance are extraordinary people and deserve to be celebrated,” said Susette Aguiar, director of development for PVW. “Whether they’re teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, or people like you and me.”

Dr. John Branch, Mike Nolan and Michael Thompson earned the “Celebrated Hero Award” after being nominated by participants in the event.

Participants were also able to nominate their family, friends or caregivers as heroes and their stories were posted near the starting line of the race.

In addition to the 1k and 5k runs, there was a prize drawing, games and a pancake breakfast for those in attendance.

Other nonprofit charities were there to help raise money and bring attention to their respective causes.

S.A.F.E. (Streets Are For Everyone) was selling a phone case called the Iring, which is used as a hands free navigation, in order to promote safe driving.

Elisha Campos, a sophomore business major at the University of La Verne, was one of the students selling the Iring.

Campos’ parents also work for Valley Light Workshop, a organization that helps disabled adults find jobs.

“It’s a cause that gets overlooked a lot,” Campos said.

The participants have a personal investment in bringing awareness to charities like PVW.

East Los Angeles resident Carlos Sanoval’s 7-year-old son Orlando participated in the 1k and has been to multiple charity races.

Sandoval said his son runs for fun and is too young to understand the charity work he is doing, but still stressed that causes like PVW’s need support.

“When he gets older, he’ll realize what he’s doing,” Sandoval said. “(He runs) to help the community.”

Aguiar said it is the great charitable work PVW does that drew her to the organization eight months ago.

“It’s noble and important work to help other people get a happier, more fulfilled life,” Aguiar said. “Giving them opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Christopher McMahan can be reached at

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