Running to Beat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
By: Natty Plunkett
Run For Aidan 5K: Saturday, August 30th at Wilburton Park in Bellevue, WA
The Run for Aidan story began with the dearly-loved coaching that Mitch and Mindy Leffler provided to the sizeable cross country and track programs at my alma mater high school (Newport H.S. in Bellevue, WA) from 1994 to 2006. The Leffler's three year old son, Aidan, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the end of my very first season of distance running as a high school sophomore. DMD is a degenerative, as-yet-uncured neuromuscular disease that affects one in 3,600 boys.
Our team's response marked the first of many occasions in which I have been struck and humbled by the power of runners coming together for a greater cause. Just months after our team received the news, a dedicated group of team moms spearheaded a 5k to raise money for Aidan's sizeable medical expenses. Racing around the loops of our home cross country course took on a deeper meaning when we raced for Aidan. That sense of purpose still defines the run, now in its ninth year.
In my perspective, the act of competing for Aidan's family is a symbolic and financial act of defiance against the tragedy of the unexpected diagnosis. The run gives us an outlet for the understandable emotions of anger and sadness, so that we are not left feeling completely helpless in the face of DMD. On the positive side, the run shows the running community's support of the Leffler family in tangible and relational ways. Aidan's medical fund empowers the Lefflers to pursue the best treatments, which is a freedom that is sadly inaccessible to some DMD boys due to financial barriers.
The event has the feel of a running family reunion each year! Mitch and Mindy tell me that the reunion is one of their favorite parts of the event. Interestingly, the "running sisterhood" of the Oiselle team is also connected with the Aidan family, as a handful of birds know Mindy. Representing Oiselle through this community run is very rewarding to me, and the runners always enjoy the prizes that Oiselle generously donates. We love it when birds participate in the run itself too, of course!
Run For Aidan 5K Schedule - 8/30/14
8:00 am - 8:45am: Registration
9:00 am: Women/Girls 5k
9:40am: Men/Boys 5k
10:15am: 1 Mile Walk
Informal ceremony to follow, bake sale, and event T-shirt sale!
Location: 100 - 124th Ave NE Bellevue, WA 98005
Register on the day of the event. Release forms MUST be signed by parent/guardian. Suggested donation $20-$50. Cash or checks accepted. Make checks out to the “Aidan William Leffler Trust”. 100% of the proceeds of the registration donations go to Aidan’s fund. If you cannot attend but wish to donate, please visit www.aidanleffler.info. This site also contains the complete story of Aidan, photos, DMD info, and Aidan’s medical care fund. We hope to see you there!