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‘Can Do’ raises funds, awareness

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Can  Do finish line
Courtesy Photo Last year’s “Can Do” event raised over $30,000.
It’s time once again for the “Can Do” 5K/10K, an annual event to benefit Northwest Special Families (NSF) and Northshore Y’s Partners with Youth Campaign.

Now in its fifth year, the race is expected to draw nearly 2,000 participants of all ages.

“This is a community event where people of all abilities can do,” says Natalia Bynum, co-director of the race. “It’s an opportunity to not only raise money for valuable programs, but also to raise awareness of what individuals with special needs can accomplish.”

Last year’s event was deemed a great success with over 1,400 registered racers and community teams who together raised over $30,000.

Proceeds from the race help NSF offer new and expanded opportunities and programs in the community, such as inclusive and specialized camps, on-going education and support with guest lectures and workshops.

Operated out of the Northshore Family Center, NSF is a program of the Center for Human Services. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to increase opportunities for social inclusion for children with special needs and their families through support, advocacy and education.

For Bynum, NSF has become an important part of her family’s life.

She says: “I have a son with autism, and NSF is a place where we can feel connected with others who get it  — who understand what it’s all about.

“Through NSF, we have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships and form friendships that may have not been possible in just the day-to-day school situation. It’s also an invaluable resource for families who have kids with special needs.”

Bynum has been involved with the organization for the past seven years and serves on the steering committee.

Proceeds from the race also go toward the Northshore Y’s annual campaign, Partners with Youth. This program is dedicated to providing programming to kids who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in programs that focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The “Can Do” event has gradually gathered momentum over the years and it is currently Bothell’s biggest race. Its growth is primarily due to word-of-mouth.

“We’ve gone from a small fundraiser to a large scale community-wide event that demonstrates real inclusion,” comments Bynum. “We get everyone from athletes and families to people with a wide range of disabilities, all coming together for a great cause. The community really supports this event, as well as the schools. And that’s what makes it so successful.”

The Bothell woman notes the responses from participants are always overwhelmingly positive.

She adds, “We love hearing from the experienced runners, who tell us that the event is so well-organized. And our families with special needs children tell us that they feel so included. That’s what we want to hear.”

This year, the “Can Do” race will be followed by the Northshore Y’s Healthy Kid’s Day, a free, family-friendly event aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and featuring games and activities, healthy snacks, facility tours and more.

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