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Want to be active for your own health, and to be a part of something bigger? Anneslie resident Michele Howe has found a way in Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA). Michele is a preschool teacher at Dulaney Day School in Stoneleigh and a busy mom to a son and twin daughters. The longtime runner had grown bored with running until three years ago. That's when ASA restored her motivation and put her athletic experience and people skills to use. Michele has already participated in at least 20 events with ASA, and attends group training sessions at the NCR Trail twice a week.

ASA was founded seven years ago when David Slomkowski began to recruit area athletes to help individuals with disabilities compete in mainstream running and triathlon events. Now active in seven areas around Maryland, Pennsylvania, and D.C., ASA has more than 300 volunteers working with 125 athletes with special needs. The athletes range in age from 5 to 55. Support teams for each athlete include a captain and "wingmen" who guide the athletes to their goals. ASA's motto is "Together we finish" — and that finish line is exceptionally meaningful to the athletes.

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Athlete Maggie Breschi has finished many races with Michele and ASA. "Maggie has had opportunities for new experiences and memories — such as running across the Bay Bridge, marathons, a triathlon, meeting Joe Flacco, seeing her community from a whole new perspective from her jogger, and, most importantly, making new wonderful friendships in ways that historically haven't happened," said Maggie's mom, Mary Anne Breschi.

Volunteers have much to gain, too, in running for others. "It's not about getting your PR. It's not about your ego. It's about helping someone achieve something they may have never dreamed they could do, like earning a Baltimore Marathon medal," Michele says, "To be able to help make that feeling of accomplishment possible for these athletes is hard to describe." Support team members, such as Michele, pay their own race entry fees and raise funds during the year, but the program is free for the athletes being served.

The expenses of the assistive racing equipment and entry fees for the athletes with special needs are covered through donations, and are also raised through events such as the ASA 5K & Fall Family Festival, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 31, in Hunt Valley. This fun event features a 5K run, a 1-mile walk, and a Halloween Hustle for the youngest participants (where last year's runners chased a costumed-volunteer Elmo as their "pacer"). After the morning's races there will be food, live music, a kid zone, costume contests, awards, and more. For registration and information visit www.asa5k.com. If you'd like more information on ASA, if you know an aspiring athlete, or to help with a donation, please visit www.athletesservingathletes.org.

Have some community news to share? Drop me a line at courtmcgee3@gmail.com.

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