WHEELING - Everyone who competed in this year's Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic - from the youngest participant to the most seasoned distance runner - can take pride in knowing they helped provide a brighter future for children facing enormous challenges, Race Director R. "Scat" Scatterday said.
Race organizers on Wednesday presented a $13,000 check to Augusta Levy Learning Center Executive Director Kathy Shapell, representing proceeds from the 37th annual event, held in May. The learning center, located in North Wheeling, provides intensive therapy to children with autism. There are 15 students currently enrolled at the facility.
"This is possible because of our sponsors, and every runner and walker in the nine events," Scatterday said.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Augusta Levy Learning Center Executive Director Kathy Shapell accepts a $13,000 check from Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, center, and Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday. The funds represent proceeds from the 37th annual half marathon, which was held in May.
There's no doubt Shapell and the 16 therapists employed at Augusta Levy love what they do - they just wish they could do more of it. Funding constraints limit the number of children who can enroll there at any one time, making contributions such as that from the Ogden race all the more important to the center's mission.
"We're extremely grateful to Ogden Newspapers and the race committee for selecting us to benefit from the race," Shapell said. "All of the proceeds will go toward providing direct services for our kids in need."
Many children lack even the most basic communication skills when they arrive, their parents overwhelmed and desperate for some hope.
By the time they graduate, after many months of one-on-one therapy, 35 hours a week, they will be prepared to succeed in regular classrooms.
It costs about $36,000 to provide a year of therapy for a child at Augusta Levy, significantly less than at many other facilities across the country. The center cuts costs wherever it can - Shapell doesn't even receive a salary for her work.
"It's wonderful to be able to help an organization as dedicated to children as the Augusta Levy Learning Center, and no one personifies that dedication like Kathy Shapell," said Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. "We are pleased to be able to help her further her vision for the youth of the Ohio Valley."
Scatterday called the decision to support Augusta Levy "a no-brainer," and noted he looks forward to selecting yet another worthy cause to benefit from next year's event.
"Part of the selection process was based on the actual, life-changing good that they do every day for their students," he said.
Scatterday said everyone involved with the center, from staff members to parents to the children themselves, were enthusiastic participants in this year's race. Some served as volunteers, while others ran.
"It's a great motivator to have team players like that," he said.
This afternoon, three children will graduate from the program during a ceremony at the learning center, before proud and teary-eyed family members. Soon, three more children on the center's long waiting list - much too long, if you ask Shapell - will take their places.
Crossing a few more names off that list makes it a little easier for Shapell to say goodbye to the children with whom she and her staff have developed such close bonds.
"It's bittersweet. ... The nice thing is being able to welcome new children and families into the center," Shapell said.
With Wednesday's donation, the race has given more than $50,000 to local charitable causes since 2010. Past recipients include the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley to help with construction of a Miracle Field in Wheeling, and the Super Six Committee to fund an ongoing scholarship for student-athletes in memory of the late Howard Corcoran, a former Ogden race director.