INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Hundreds of Hoosiers will hit the streets around IUPUI this weekend for the Joseph Maley Foundation Annual 5K Run, Walk, Roll.
This event helps raise money to end bullying and raise awareness about disabilities in our community.
At the foundation’s offices this summer, you’ll find eighth grade students spending their summer with puppets as big as children. This is one of nine programs within the Joseph Maley Foundation, started by Vivian Maley and her husband.
“Joseph, our oldest, was born 26 years ago with a lot of disabilities,” said Vivian. “As his younger brothers were growing up they really needed those tools to share who Joseph was with their friends and be a voice for Joseph because he was non-verbal.”
Joseph passed away from leukemia at just 18 years old, but the Maley family continues to honor their eldest child.
“I think we would just like to be known as a place where a family can get support,” said Maley. “We can teach them, and help them be advocates for their children.”
This program with the puppets is called "Kids on the Block.” It trains older children how to more effectively reach younger kids.
“It’s a much more effective way to engage young students generally preschool through fourth grade,” said Maggie Mestrich, who is the director of Development and Communications for JMF. “So cerebral palsy, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and autism,” Mestrich pointed out.
Another program gives students the opportunity to take part in a race, pushed by a runner. Organizers describe it as an inspiring sight at some of the local runs, including the Joseph Maley 5K, their largest fundraiser which keeps getting bigger each year.
“They’re running for the children and the families in their own community,” said Maley.
“We’re working really hard creating a culture of acceptance, respect and empowering children to stand up for each other,” said Mestrich.
The Joseph Maley 5K Run, Walk and Roll is Saturday July 9, with the Elite race at 8 a.m. and the open event is at 8:30 a.m.