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Bits & Pieces: BWI Airport Run celebrates its 25th year of raising money for Down Syndrome

When Wayne and Cynthia Malone's son, Jaron, was born in 1980 they knew he was a special child — more special than others because he had Down syndrome. When the Malones sought information about their son's unique needs at the local library, what they found was extremely outdated.

"This was before computers were in full blossom," Wayne said. "The information was all 1950s stuff."

They received no information from their doctors other than a suggestion to take their son home and not to expect much from him, which was not an acceptable answer to them.

Wayne said he searched the fledging internet and found the Down Syndrome Society of New York. Not long after that, Sharon Gilitson of Baltimore's Sinai Hospital put together a counseling group of parents whose children had Down Syndrome. "We shared our concerns and thoughts about the challenges" of having a Down child, Wayne said.

The Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Support Group was founded; then, under ARC, the Howard County Resource Group.

The idea for theBWI Airport run came when an executive at Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman), where Wayne works, suggested that the company get involved in the special needs community. Wayne was asked if he could get any interest among the parents groups.

"We put a race together in 30 days and attracted 190 runners," Wayne said. The first race was a 10k.

The next year the race drew 490 runners and soon a school challenge award was established with MARC offering 150 round trips from the BWI train station to Union Station in Washington to the winning school. Elkridge Landing Middle School has won the last 15 years; Ellicott Mills Middle had a lock on the award prior to that.

Before9/11, the BWI Airport Run, by then a 4k run or two-mile walk, took place on Northrop Grumman and BWI Airport property with planes landing nearby.

When airport security was tightened immediatley after 9/11, Wayne had to scramble to find a replacement site. The fun run he organized at the Embassy Suite Hotel near the airport raised a record $35,000.

Officially, the race is sponsored by Northrop Grumman and Kennedy Krieger and the event benefits Kennedy Krieger Institute's Down Syndrome Clinic. In recognization of the BWI Airport run's 25th anniversary, Northrop Grumman has donated $25,000 to Kennedy Krieger.

Wayne hopes to raise an additional $30,000 with this year's race. Runners can register Saturday at the Embassy Suites Hotel from 2-5 p.m., or race day from 7:30-8:15 a.m. at the BWI Midfield Cargo Warehouse Complex Building 5 on Mathison Way in Linthicum. Online registration is available at events.kennedykrieger.org.

The Pride of the Lions

It's homecoming Saturday at Howard High School and the Lions Pride is going to induct new members to the Howard Hall of Fame. Frank Lupashunski is being recognized as the "father" of Howard County golf and for his accomplishments as a teacher and coach at Howard for 32 years.

Also being inducted will be the 2006 girls cross country state championship team and the 2006 boys track and field state championship team. The ceremony will take place at 12:45 p.m.

Exercise is the heart of the matter

Don't forget the Heart Walk that will be held this Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. at Centennial Park. This is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. You can sign up in advance for this very worthy cause or sign up Saturday before the walk, which has two options — one that goes for one mile and another that loops around Centennial Lake for 2.8 miles.

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