Lakewood OH

Youth Challenge Superhero Dash set for Sept. 16 in Lakewood Park




WESTSHORE – Start thinking of costume ideas. You still have time to be a superhero this month.

Actually, costumes are optional, but they are encouraged for the Youth Challenge Superhero Dash — and prizes are awarded. Many dashers dress the part of a superhero, said Chris Garr, director of program services for Youth Challenge. The 32nd annual dash will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, at Lakewood Park.

Youth Challenge, founded in 1976 in Fairview Park, is a nonprofit that provides adapted sports and recreational opportunities for children and teens with physical disabilities. Trained volunteers, ages 12-18, are paired with the children and teens to play and have fun. The organization serves clients in six Northeast Ohio counties and has an office in Shaker Heights in addition to the facility on Sharon Drive in Westlake.

Dash participants can choose among a 1-mile fun walk/roll, a 5K and, new this year, a three-person relay, Garr said. The event kicks off at 8 a.m. with race day registration and packet pick-up. The 5K and relay, which are timed, start at 9:15 a.m., and the untimed fun walk/roll starts at 10 a.m.

Early online registration at closes on Friday, Sept. 15. Mail-in registration closes on Wednesday Sept. 13. Details about registration and entry fees are on the Hermes website and at All dash proceeds will benefit Youth Challenge.

Youth Challenge programs serve 4- to 19-year-olds with physical disabilities only, but the dash also is open to children with developmental or intellectual disabilities, Garr said. Dashers will race against competitors with similar disabilities. An awards ceremony will immediately follow the fun walk/roll.

The dash has been dedicated since 1996 to Dave Hardman, a former board president, said Mary Sue Tanis, Youth Challenge founder and executive director. Hardman, who died in 1995, was passionate about getting clients out to exercise and socialize, she said, and his family remains involved with the organization. Hardman’s son Doug, who lives in Rocky River, usually fires the starter gun to begin the race, Tanis said.

Participants take the competition seriously. “The most common question at the finish line is ‘What was my time?’ They aspire to be athletes,” she said.




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