BILOXI -- Disability Connection teamed up with the Gulf Coast Running Club for the eighth year Saturday to host the 28th annual Arbor Day 5K and Disability Awareness run. The race encourages an active lifestyle for people with disabilities. Nearly 250 participants registered for the race at the Biloxi Town Green.
Runners and riders were teamed up with members of groups such as Ainsley's Angels -- a nationwide organization that, according to its website, "aims to build awareness about America's special needs community" in addition to "ensuring everyone can experience endurance events." The group connects families to upcoming races and encourages an active life.
"We have a lot of people here from different organizations helping out and handing out information about the different sports and recreation activities and your disability rights," said Janie O'Keefe, Disability Connection's executive director. Information and resources were available on disability awareness and involvement.
"I just really love seeing the whole community come together for people with disabilities," O'Keefe said. "It can be hard for them to even get out of bed some days. I think more than the run, they enjoy seeing their community come out to support them and encouraging them. It's a very emotional moment."
Disability Connection hosts programs and events in South Mississippi throughout the year, such as employment connection and service projects. An upcoming playground cleanup is scheduled for April 24 at Bruce Ladd Memorial Park, Harrison County's only inclusive disability playground.