Thursday, June 08, 2000

Race is for runners with kindly hearts

By Travis Mayo
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — When Amy Purcell and Ivy Boehm lace up their shoes and race through the evening shade in Newport Friday, they won't be treading for the sake of exercise.

        The two women, occasional runners who are also co-workers at LensCrafters in Kenwood, will be moving for a cause.

        They'll compete in the Spaghetti Nob 5K Run and Walk to raise money and awareness for New Perceptions, an Edgewood agency that helps mentally disabled children and adults.

        The event, which is part of Newport's Italian Festival, raised $3,500 for the agency last summer. The festival begins tonight and goes until Sunday evening.

        Ms. Purcell and Ms. Boehm run six to 12 races a year — only for good causes, they said. When Ms. Purcell, 33, of Newport, received a blank registration and a letter describing the event, that was cause enough to sign up, she said.

        “Neither of us are in it to compete,” she said.

        If their race times were revealed, anyone could understand why they don't sprint for competition, joked Ms. Boehm, 34, of Loveland.

        New Perceptions, a non-profit United Way agency, helps children and adults with developmental disabilities or mental retardation. That is enough motivation, Ms. Boehm said.

        “When you're running for a particular cause, you realize how lucky you are to have your health. You realize how much the human spirit can overcome disabilities,” she said.

        That spirit is evident inside the large gray building just off Interstate 275 East and Ky. 17. Once called the Riverside Good Counsel, New Perceptions has been helping disabled infants, toddlers and adults since 1952.

        The agency has operated a workshop for adults since 1974, training and employing them in assembly and package work. On Friday, 93 workers were putting together medical testing equipment for a tristate company.

        New Perceptions' community job training program, in which people are placed and assisted in outside jobs, has grown since its start in 1985. That year, the agency placed two people into jobs; now the agency is working with 72 people at job sites.

        New Perceptions helps infants and preschoolers prepare for public school.

        The agency relies heavily on grants, donations and events like the 5K.

        “Fund raising helps for those who are out there, who need new accommodations or need to learn new skills as part of a job,” said Betty Bernard, executive director of New Perceptions.

        “(The race) doesn't raise nearly the amount of money we'd like it to, but that's only part of the battle,” said Chris Montello, 30, of Covington. Mr. Montello, one of the racers, is on the agency's board of directors.

        “Part of the battle is increasing awareness for people who have needs, (who) don't know where to turn,” he said. “If we can raise awareness, we can help more people.”

        That's the reason Ms. Purcells and Ms. Boehm keep running.


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