The 5K for a great cause on this Alabama lake

Two Alabama Power Shoreline Management employees are teaming up to make a difference in the lives of children with unique disabilities – and getting exercise in the meantime.

The inaugural Dam 5K is Saturday, July 8 and has been a dream in the making since Casandra Maudsley, of the Logan Martin/Neely Henry office, and Kadie Nowak, of the Weiss office, first began working together four years ago. Through their friendship, Maudsley learned of Nowak’s son, Harlan, who has osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare condition in which bones easily break.

“My son had a spontaneous genetic mutation at birth. After his diagnosis, we were told he would never walk, never get to do the things most kids do,” Nowak said.

But thanks to a strong support system and regular treatments at Children’s of Alabama, Harlan is able to walk and function as other normal 3-year-olds his age.

Seeing other families go through the trials of rare disabilities led Nowak and Maudsley to start a nonprofit organization, The Unbreakable Fighters, which provides resources, relief and support. Maudsley, who is a member of the Eastern Division Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) chapter, was eager to find a way for the community to support families like the Nowaks.

“It is all about knowledge and having medical professionals who have the knowledge to help you,” said Nowak. “The treatments have given my son a chance. But not all families have access to the same resources, medical experts and hospitals that we do. If I can do something to help others know they are not alone and that they can be advocates for their children, to help give their children a chance like mine, that’s why we wanted to start this.”

An avid member of the Gadsden Runners Club, Maudsley has always wanted to run a race on Neely Henry Dam, and began dreaming of a 5K that could support The Unbreakable Fighters. With the support of Alan Peeples, Lisa Martindale, John Morris and Herbie Johnson in Alabama Power’s Hydro department, the Dam 5K became a reality.

“This is a new avenue to support families who have to endure a lot of hardship and expenses with children with unique disabilities,” said Maudsley. “We have great community support and are hoping to make this race the beginning of a series of races.”

The Dam 5K begins at 7:30 a.m. Race day registration and packet pickup begins at 6:30 a.m. Runners will receive a T-shirt and nonrunners can purchase a shirt for $10.

A free 1-mile kids fun run will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by a free Unbreakable Fighters Run at 9 a.m. for children with unique disabilities.

After the races, there will be a celebration with inflatables, Italian ice, games and tours of Neely Henry Dam.

“Seeing people come out to support, it brings tears to my eyes. Nothing can bring a smile to your face more – it really shows the power of people when they work together,” Nowak said.

“The running community is such a charitable community. We have people who can’t run and still want to donate and runners who are running because they support the cause,” Maudsley said.

Race entry is $20 per runner or $15 for Alabama Power employees, Gadsden Race Club members and Anniston Race Club members. Register online at www.RunSignUp.com until July 6 at midnight or by mail at Unbreakable Fighters, 700County Road 380, Centre, Alabama 35960.

To receive a free race T-shirt, entrants must register before June 30.

Learn more about the Unbreakable Fighters at http://www.unbreakablefighters.com/.

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