UNION — A 5K run to be held Saturday will raise both funds and community awareness for Autism Speaks.
The “Just Glazed” 5K team run/walk for Autism Speaks will be held this Saturday, Oct. 6, starting at 8 a.m. The run/walk will start and finish at Foster Park. The run will include four-member teams, which can be all-male, all-female or coed with two male and two female. Teams must start and finish together, and awards will be given to the top male, female and coed finishing teams.
The run — organized by a group of local runners known as the Brat Pack — is being held in honor of 13-year-old Sebastian Kirkland.
Sebastian — the son of David and Barbara Kirkland — was diagnosed with autism at age five, and each October, the family raises funds for Autism Speaks, mostly by collecting donations.
Last summer, however, the Kirklands took up a new hobby as a family that would eventually provide a new outlet for raising money for Autism Speaks — running with the Brat Pack.
“Running became a passion for the whole family,” Barbara said. “Everyone in the Brat Pack loves him.”
Annually, the Brat Pack completes a run/walk from Union to Spartanburg, and before last year’s trip, it was decided that the reward at the end would be for those who participated to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
“The big thing was getting Krispy Kreme doughnuts after the run, but after that, Sebastian wanted to get Krispy Kreme after every run,” Barbara laughed. “His nickname became Krispy Kreme.”
Barbara said Sebastian then said something to one of the Brat Pack members about the name, and they said, “No, it’s not Krispy Kreme, it’s just glazed.”
Brat Pack captain David Kitchens discussed Sebastian during an interview with The Union Daily Times in February.
“He basically runs for donuts, that’s why we call him Glaze,” Kitchens said. “He loves donuts and everyone knows it, so if we walk to Spartanburg, we go and get donuts. If we run 20 miles on Saturday, we go get him donuts. If you ask him what he runs for, he’ll tell you, ‘I run for glaze!’”
Sebastian went on to run the 2012 Myrtle Beach Marathon, finishing with a time of 4.57.27 and becoming the youngest person from Union County to ever finish a marathon.
Now a seventh-grader at Sims Middle School, Sebastian runs with the cross country team. Barbara said she was nervous about her son joining the team at first, but it has helped his confidence as well as helping him socially.
“Coach Wagner and the kids have accepted him, taken him in and looked out for him,” Barbara said, explaining that Sebastian has progressed from running side-by-side with someone to running by himself at the last four to five meets.
“It has exposed him to being in large groups, and he’s not so uncomfortable. He’s more confident now, and he’s opened up more with us and with some of the kids on the cross country team.”
The family — and the rest of the Brat Pack — decided to incorporate their passion for running with their campaign to raise money for Autism Speaks by hosting Saturday’s “Just Glazed” 5K team run/walk.
“We felt like the 5K would get more community involvement and raise more awareness in Union,” Barbara said. “And I plan to have Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the finish line.”
Currently 82 people are registered for the 5K, and Kirkland said she is hoping to break 100. Registration is $100 per team or $25 per individual. Registration checks should be made payable to Autism Speaks. For more information about the event or to volunteer, call (864) 441-4455.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.