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  • Writer's pictureJennifer McGraw

Grasso hosts 4th Annual Seany Shoe Hands 5K

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer McGraw Hammonton Police Lt. Sean Grasso pushes his son, Sean at the Seany Shoe Hands 5K and 1 Mile Hero Walk for Autism on April 27 at Hammonton Lake Park. Article and photos inside.

HAMMONTON—Who else do you know can push their child in a wheelchair in a 5K? Lieutenant Sean Grasso did, once again, during his Seany Shoe Hands 5K Race for Autism at Hammonton Lake Park on April 27.

If you weren’t feeling the 3.1 miles but wanted to participate, you could also sign up to walk or run a one mile path. Most of the participants, however, thought Saturday’s weather perfect for a nice run.

Once Chief Kevin Friel was promoted in the Hammonton Police Department, he and Sean Grasso teamed up to hold events like this.

“Five years ago when Chief Friel got promoted, we started doing these community events, I asked him for permission to do this kind of thing. And, you know, it’s awesome. In the last five years with this event, we’ve raised thousands for autistic kids to go to camp.” Grasso said.

The race, which started during the pandemic and not officially a “race,” benefits Camp Sun N’ Fun for children and adults with autism and cognitive disabilities. More than 25 runners from around the community showed up to support.

“It’s going to people that work hands-on with autistic kids, you know, Camp Sun N’ Fun is an awesome place. It’s open to autistic kids from Hammonton. There’s not a lot of places like that, you know, autistic camp.” Grasso said. “Autistic kids don’t have a lot of options when it comes to summer camp and they need specialized care. So that’s why we do this here for The Arc Glassboro.”

A handful of local resources were at the event, in addition to Dunkin’ Donuts available to those in attendance.

The race kicked off at 10 a.m. for all participants, and it only took 18 minutes and three seconds for the 5K winner to return. Local Benjamin Bailey won first place in the race. He jokingly talked about how his time could have been shorter if not for running in sand. Regardless, the environment didn’t seem to waiver him.

Prior to the race, t-shirts were sold for participants or those who wanted to support the cause. The shirt sale raised $1144 for the camp. Other events, Grasso remarked, held that same level of success and attributes it to the community.

“With the other events, we’ve raised thousands of pounds of food. During our canned food drive presents during Christmas time, it’s just been a great five years for these community events.” Grasso said.

The unique part of the race, and Grasso’s favorite, is a special bond with his son during the race.

“My favorite thing is that I love running with my son. We’ve done it ever since he was little. You know, that’s my personal fun thing.” Grasso said.

The Atlantic County Special Needs Registry partnered with the event. Chief Friel discussed why this registry is crucial for anyone with children with specialized needs in the community.

“It helps public safety, EMS, fire and police assist [individuals with specialized needs] in times of crisis or in times of emergency.” Friel said. “Residents in Atlantic County could go on to the website and they would fill out information about them or the individual with special needs.

So that this way if there’s any interaction with police, fire, EMS and that individual, we know how to best serve and help that person.”

One thing was certain, Hammonton lifts each other up in times of need.

“Everybody’s trying to if they can’t come out there, they’re donating. When you have a kid like mine, you need help from everybody in the community when they’re, you know, they’re holding the door for my wife so she can get through it’s all great. Grasso said.

“It’s great to have a nice community like this where everybody knows you and everybody you know, it just didn’t help out because you know, you need it no matter how much you have” he said.

This article was produced in collaboration with New Jersey Civic Information Consortium and Rowan University.


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