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Disability Awareness Fundraiser Lands Record Turnout

colorburst1OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/22/2013) – Amanda Owen, founder and Director of Puzzle Pieces in Owensboro, made local history today by helping organize what was labeled the biggest community 5K event in Owensboro to date. The Color Blast 5k held at English Park is a 5K run/walk color celebration designed to recognize the positive impact individuals with special needs have on people's lives, acknowledge their abilities, and help to spread awareness from families to friends to individuals, according to colorblast5k.org, the event's parent website.

The day began with the National Anthem being sung by Apollo High School student Courtland Keown, a junior at Apollo High School. Keown has been diagnosed with Autism and attends Puzzle Pieces after school. A worker who accompanied Keown Saturday morning said Keown has made a great deal of progress in managing the challenges of autism.

"Two years ago, he wouldn't even go near a crowd because of the noise and the people. To go from that to singing at Apollo High School yesterday at their awareness assembly, and to singing alone in front of 4200 people today just shows how far he has come," the person said.

Saturday morning. Chris Bennefield, a local DJ and Master of Ceremonies for the event, gave Owen all the credit, telling crowds gathered that the Color Blast 5k was the biggest community 5k event in the history of Owensboro.

Owen told SurfKY News the event exceeded expectations for participation.

"Basically, this was put together to support ability awareness," she said. "Since March is Disability Awareness Month, I coordinated with five other organizations along with Puzzle to organize a fundraising event. Our goal in the beginning was have 1,500 people participate, and today we hit 4,223 people."

Six area organizations worked together to make Owen's fundraising dream a reality. Puzzle Pieces, Team Karlie, GRADSA, Buddy Ball, The Wendall Foster Center, and Dream Riders of Kentucky pulled their resources together, and the outcome was more than any of them could have hoped. Owen said the largest portion of the proceeds will go to a sixth charity as well.

"We're going to donate 25 percent of funds raised to an organization in Louisville called The Crusade," she said, explaining that the program "gives out grants with special needs."

"So we benefit from that," she added.

Owen said that the total amount going to The Crusade is about $16,000.00, with each organization that participated in the event receiving about $7,400.00 each.

The fun didn't stop after the 5k, however. An enormous "After Party" was held at English Park, where students from the various organizations performed for the audience. Perhaps the largest Harlem Shake video in the history of Owensboro was also filmed at the after-party

Alex Reid
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Alex Reid

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