5K run to benefit district's special needs programs

With a little inspiration, some things seem to fall into place.

At least that's the way it sounds when Erica Smart Rodriguez tells the story of how Enumclaw's 5K Run for Down Syndrome started.

Rodriguez works at Enumclaw's Firewall Capital Management. One day, she said, owner Heath Rainwater decided he wanted to plant a seed in the community where he lives. He asked Rodriguez to find a way Firewall Capital Management could give back to the community.

Rodriguez didn't have to look far.

She was inspired by her stepson, Jonathan a student with Down Syndrome who attends Westwood Elementary School. In talking with his teachers, she discovered the school's program could use additional funding.

"They told me that they did not have a whole lot of funds to work with," Rodriguez said, "and that some classes did not have any money for field trips and they have really old computers, but not the software they need to help improve the skills of the children in the special needs programs."

The 5k Run for Down Syndrome was born.

Although the run is titled Down Syndrome, Rodriguez said, it benefits all children in the Enumclaw School District's special needs programs.

"We started out giving funds just to Southwood and Westwood schools, and this year, we will give to all schools," Rodriguez said.

In its first year, the 5K raised $1,300. The following year, he total grew to $2,700. This year, the goal is to raise $5,000.

Rodriguez said the money goes a long way.

"I have heard that from last year, the teachers were able to buy three complete computer systems, buy specialized materials, supplies and toys for the kids, and use the money for field trips," she said.

"She does 99 percent of the work," Rainwater said of Rodriguez. "We've been honored. A lot of people from the community come out to support it. It's something we want to do to help the school district."

The work is not done only by Firewall Capital Management. The copany gets a helping hand from The Vine Christian Ministries and The Metropolitan Market.

The date for this year's 5k Run for Down Syndrome is Oct. 10. October is national Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

It starts at 2 p.m. at The Summit in Enumclaw. Preregistration is $20 for adults and $10 for kids. The cost goes up to $25 for adults and $15 for kids on race day. The package includes a barbecue, runners' bags, raffle prizes and awards for first- through third-place winners in each division, male and female.

For information about the race, call Rodriguez at 253-951-5292 or go onto to download a flier.

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