MDS run brings families together

Participants in the second annual Rollin’ on the River Family Fun 5K Run, Walk and Roll on Oct. 20 along the Riverfront Trail will support nearly 300 local infants and toddlers who benefit from Mesa Developmental Services’ early intervention programs.

The programs are free to families because state and federal dollars that help fund early intervention services come with the condition of Mesa Developmental Services providing them at no cost, according to MDS spokeswoman Marilee Langfitt. But public funding doesn’t pay the whole tab, Langfitt said, and the services government will pay for are decreasing.

Registration fees for the 5K — $25 for adults and $15 for seniors and students — will help patch that gap.

Without free services for her two-year-old daughter Lizzie, Jennifer Cutts of Grand Junction said she could not afford the occupational and visual therapy her daughter receives from MDS. Lizzie was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an adult fist when she was three months old and needed a little bit of help catching up in her development. The tumor also affected the nerves in Lizzie’s brain that connect to her eyes and she needed therapy to help her learn to look directly ahead instead of looking to the right.

“They keep us between a rock and a hard place with insurance. They can’t deny us coverage for a pre-existing condition but they can mark it up as much as 200 percent,” Cutts said, referring to care for Lizzie.

Cutts is a member of the steering committee for the 5K along with fellow MDS parent Alicia Pedroza. Pedroza’s son, Vinny Mannes, has cerebral palsy and permanent brain damage caused by kernicterus, a neurological condition caused by jaundice when he was a newborn. Pedroza said having MDS professionals come to her home for weekly occupational therapy and the occasional visit for respite care so she and her fiance can spend a few hours away from home have meant the world to her.

“Our occupational therapist has become our friend. The relationship you develop isn’t just about what they can do for your son, it’s about asking how the family is doing. They care for the families in general,” Pedroza said.

Both moms say the 5K will be a great opportunity for the MDS “family” to meet and for parents facing the same circumstances to connect. The event is for anyone, though, and will have family-friendly activities for all, including a magician, a bubble station, sidewalk chalk, face painting, free lunch provided by Enzo’s and appearances by Sadie the Safety-saurus from St. Mary’s Hospital and Andy the Ambulance from the Grand Junction Fire Department.

The 5K will begin at 10 a.m. at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, 655 Struthers Ave. Runners will go first and run east to Eagle Rim Park and back. Walkers and people with strollers or wheelchairs will start second and head west toward the Riverside neighborhood. All participants will meet back at the botanical gardens.

To register online using PayPal or to print an entrance form, visit http://www.mesadev.org. Race day registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the botanical gardens.


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