By Dan Majka
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Sunday, June 14, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council is hosting its 21st Annual Dr. Howard Mazer Strides for Stroke Memorial 5K in Philadelphia. And whether you walk or run, it’s all for a good cause.
“The event this year is actually taking on even a little bit of a different character than it had it prior years,” says Ira Mazer, co-chair of the event, “because we’re not only trying to raise money, but we’re trying to provide those who do come out to participate in a good time and a good experience.”
Mazer says the event was created by the DVSC to help raise funds and awareness for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death and number one cause of adult disability. He says the organization itself was founded in the early to mid-1990’s by his mother Toby.
“She essentially discovered the council based on the experience of my father having a stroke and all of the different issues that arose from that from actual care and rehabilitation to insurance actually covering different things,” he says. “She had done a lot of research, talked to a lot of different physicians and realized that there’s probably a lot of people who don’t know what to do once their family member has a stroke.”
In 2006, after Mazer’s father Howard passed away from his second stroke, the organization decided to name the event in his honor. Now, in its 21st year, the race is expected to draw close to 1,000 runners, walkers, stroke survivors and volunteers. Mazer says, yes, the goal is to raise money, but there is much more to it than that.
“Besides raising money for the purpose, what we do at this event is we make sure that we honor the memory of those who lost their lives to stroke,” he says, “but we also honor those stroke survivors and their caregivers, because they are indeed a team, and so it’s those folks that we are out there to honor. They get awards, they get pictures taken. They are the center of what we are about and what we are doing.”
Mazer says even if you or your family have no history of stoke, there is still incentive to take part in the 5K.
“One of the things that should encourage people to come out is that even if you don’t know anybody, one, you don’t know whether you’re at risk,” he says. “Yes, it’s family and it’s genetics, and a lot of other factors that you know can cause a stroke, but you could also have an understanding that money raised to promote awareness can actually help people.”
With race-day giveaways, gifts and prizes, whether you’re participating or volunteering, there will plenty of entertainment this year to make the day fun.
“We usually have music and we will again this year,” Mazer says. “I believe the Mummers have come out certainly in past years and they are expected again. I know Parx Casino is sponsor and they will have folks out there. There’s going to be a warmup led by a an experienced gym person, his name is Paul Dunn at Level 1 Fitness.”
And Mazer says since the this year’s race coincides with Flag Day, they’re encouraging everyone to wear their best red, white and blue outfits.
“We are hoping to really to see some interesting characters out there this year. Like many races, because there are so many, we are trying to differentiate our (race), and I think that is one of the moves we are making this year.”
The race is Sunday, June 14. It gets underway at 8:30 a.m. at 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway and runs along the Schuylkill River on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.
“We encourage everybody to come out for the Strides For Stroke race,” Mazer says. “We promise that you’re supporting a good cause and that you’ll have a good time coming out doing it.”