Special Needs Kids Will Cross Finish Line With Help From Athletes

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Sometimes it takes a little help to cross the finish line in a race. That’s exactly what some students at a Baltimore school will get when they race this weekend.

As Gigi Barnett reports, it isn’t the first time students have teamed up with athletes to win.

At the Baer School in West Baltimore, it’s easy to root for the runners and forget about the wheelchairs along the wall, and that is exactly what teachers want. It’s all about crossing the finish line here. So much so, that Baer students plan to run in another race this weekend: the Shamrock 5K.

“It’s just fun to be out there, to be a part of it,” said David Slomkowski.

It’s all through the help of Athletes Serving Athletes.

Slomkowski started the group six years ago. Since then he’s partnered with several schools for special needs students to get them racing.

“It takes a lot of work to get an athlete like James across a finished line,” said Slomkowski.

One of the students is 13-year-old James Banks. Slomkowski and James began racing five years ago. So far, they’ve run five marathons and half a dozen triathlons together. On Sunday, they’ll run again in the Shamrock 5K.

“These opportunities would not be accessible to them without Athletes Serving Athletes,” said Amanda Danks.

Danks is James’ teacher. She races with students, too.

“You can really see how it helps them become more confident and independent and more excited to be around people,” she said.

About five students will compete in this weekend’s Shamrock race. The training began weeks ago, and it’s tough.

Athletes Serving Athletes has several races coming up. If you’d like to run with students, click here for a list of races.

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