The 5k Walk, Run & Roll is one of the greatest fundraisers of the year.
Over 800 men, women and children flock to Sherwood Island to raise money for STAR — the local organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through job training, scholarships and enrichment programs.
But some of the folks most impacted by STAR have not been able to take part in an endurance event.
This year’s 13th annual Walk, Run & Roll — set for Sunday, May 6 (Sherwood Island State Park, 10 a.m.) — solves that problem. And it does so in an ingenious, inclusive way.
STAR has partnered with myTeam Triumph — an athletic ride-along program for children, teens and adults (including veterans) with disabilities. These “captains” are fitted with a safe, comfortable specialized racing chair. They’re joined by “angels,” who fundraise for, run alongside and guide them through the race.
This Sunday’s event — the first for the state chapter — includes well-known Westport captains Wyatt Davis, Jenna Herbst and Stefan Esposito, plus Weston’s Jonathan Piazza.
Stefan Esposito and his brother Christophe, on a training run.
Westporter Curtis Lueker — myTeam Triumph Connecticut chapter founder — will join over 2 dozen members in the run.
“This is all about inclusion,” he says. “Our angels and volunteers get to know the captains. They spend time during training runs, and hanging out. The captains and the families are the stars.”
During the week, Lueker is head of commercial markets for a private New York bank. But his passion is endurance racing, and giving back to his community.
He raced short distance from 1999 to 2013, when he moved to Westport. He joined Total Training & Endurance, and has completed 2 Ironman races, plus 50K and 50-mile trail runs. His 3rd Ironman is this July.
Fifteen years ago, after struggling to complete his first short-distance triathlon, he saw a father and disabled son race together in a longer distance triathlon. When he saw them again on HBO Sports, they became his heroes.
Lueker later found Team Triumph, and formed Connecticut’s chapter.
His involvement has given him great insights, he says. His 3 young kids — all of whom will join him on Sunday — get it too.
“We live in an amazing town with many luxuries,” he says. “We lead lives that many would die to have. Yet we complain about our commute, our job, the lunches served at school. Meeting captains and their families with real challenges really puts things into perspective.
“I’ve also seen how people with disabilities often don’t feel included in the community. MyTeam Triumph can’t solve that issue. But we can make an impact.”
(A 1K route is suitable for walkers, strollers, wheelchairs and baby joggers. The 5K race includes prizes for the top finishers in each age group. Attendees enjoy a continental breakfast, live music, arts and crafts, kids’ fun bus, face painting, balloon sculpting, yard games and lunch. To register to run, walk or stroll, or donate to an existing team, click here. For more information on myTeam Triumph, click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 646-330-1235.)