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Race in North Park helps youths fight spinal cord injuries, illnesses

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Alex Brown and his dad, Eric Brown, participating in the race.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Awaiting cutline

Loved ones of people with spinal cord maladies might want to enter the fourth annual Team Alex 5K/5-Mile Run/Walk at 9 a.m. May 18 in North Park.

The event is the brainchild of Brian McWilliams, 18, a 2012 graduate of Pine-Richland High School and a freshman at the University of Alabama.

“This year's race is expected to be bigger than ever, with more sponsors, auction items and participants,” said McWilliams, son of Kevin and Karen McWilliams of Pine.

Brian McWilliams launched the fundraising race and walk in 2010 to help toddler Alex Brown, son of Eric Brown — one of McWilliams' former teachers — after the child was diagnosed with a mass on his spine.

“He's still undergoing regular therapy,” McWilliams said about Alex Brown. “He's made a lot of progress.”

Since 2010, McWilliams's annual walk-run has raised more than $75,000 for the Team Alex Fund, a nonprofit organization that McWilliams also started in 2010.

The Team Alex Fund offers grants for the purchase of therapy and mobility equipment for children with spinal cord injuries and illnesses.

Since its inception, the Team Alex Fund has awarded more than $50,000 in grants, according to McWilliams, who plans to become a physician.

Since 2010, more than 1,800 people have registered to participate in a Team Alex run or walk. About 250 people are registered — so far — for the 2013 event, McWilliams said.

Registration — $18 before May 4 and $25 after May 4 — includes a post-race party with free refreshments, and an awards ceremony. Top performers in three age groups will receive trophies, medals or gift certificates.

McWilliams also invites people to a spaghetti dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. May 17 in Oldenski Hall at St. Ferdinand Parish, 2535 Rochester Road, Cranberry, sponsored by the Friends of Team Alex and the Pine-Richland High School National Honor Society.

Proceeds will benefit the Team Alex Fund.

The dinner will include a display of items set for giveaway through silent and Chinese auctions. The items range from signed sports memorabilia and overnight getaways to amusement park tickets and restaurant gift cards.

Race day registration for the fourth annual Team Alex 5K/5 Mile Run/Walk will open at 7:30 a.m. May at North Park Boathouse, 339 Pearce Mill Road. To register for the event, visit Team Alex Fund's online site: www.teamalexfund.org.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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