Running the bridge for a greater cause

Each year, on the first Sunday in November, the Ben Franklin Bridge closes as thousands of runners and walkers participate in a 10K run and a two-mile walk to benefit the Larc School. In some years, we have had over 5,000 come out in rain, wind and even snow to support Larc’s very special children.

Located in Bellmawr, the Larc School is a school for children with severe and profound disabilities. We support 95 students from 3 years of age to 21 who are referred to us by over 40 school districts throughout South Jersey that cannot support them in-district. Many of our students are nonambulatory, 90% suffer from seizure disorders and most have general complex medical needs. Everything we do at Larc School is at no cost to our families.

The proceeds from the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge event, presented by AmeriHealth New Jersey, allows Larc to purchase numerous items that enhance the lives of our students. From smart boards to speech-generating devices to specialized furniture and equipment, the event directly plays a role in helping children learn, speak and walk.

The event is the work of many hands and hearts, but two individuals have gone and above beyond to ensure that the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge event is successful. Neither one of them ever wants to be recognized for their selfless efforts, but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them.

Several years ago, George Norcross, who is the chairman of Cooper University Health Care, helped to grow the event from a small, flat, neighborhood foot race to a nationally recognized 10K run and two-mile walk. With his leadership and support, the event has raised nearly $5 million for the children of the Larc School.

Another tireless advocate for the Larc School is the chairman of our board of trustees, Ed McDonnell. Each year, he commits countless hours to the school, and it’s because of his efforts that Larc provides a better life for our children with special needs.

So, as we close the bridge on Sunday, Larc offers its most sincere gratitude; we thank Norcross and McDonnell for never giving up on ways to make Larc better. We invite you to join us on Sunday to cheer on the participants and see how they, and you, can make a difference in the life a child.

Stefanie Riehl is the executive director of the LARC School and an advocate for individuals with special needs in South Jersey.