As an elite athlete and an active member of Houston’s running and triathlon communities, Danny Golden was deeply involved with bringing back the My Fit Foods The Woodlands Marathon after a 19-year absence.
Combine that with Golden’s role as the administrator for Pathfinder Pediatric Home Care, and coordinating a 2K fun run for patients and families as part of the larger race was a natural.
“We were looking for an event that would get everyone involved,” said Golden, a physical therapy assistant who has been in practice since 1994, the past 16 years with Pathfinder.
“We wanted to put together something for everyone to do together, so if you couldn’t do a full marathon, maybe you could do a 5K. And the kids could certainly do two kilometers.”
Golden, one of the directors and partners who helped plan and organize the return of the marathon, was the perfect liaison for bringing Pathfinder on as a sponsor of the 2K event, which took place March 3.
Mary Kerschbaum, co-founder of The Woodlands Running Club’s juniors running program, approached Pathfinder about making the 2K run the final leg of a “marathon” for the children.
“Our idea was for kids to run one to three miles per week and record their mileage in a log to train them in the adult way of learning to reach a goal,” Kerschbaum said.
The young athletes’ final 1.2 miles were logged by participating in the Pathfinder Pediatric Home Care 2K, where they earned a 2K medal as well as a marathon medal.
“We set the times of races so that the parents could come and watch their kids in the afternoon,” Golden noted. “When we heard that there was going to be a 2K fun run, it made perfect sense for us to step up and be the title sponsor. It was just right up our alley.”
Through the clinic, Golden involved clients. “I had a couple of families, about 15 people, four parents each with their kids,” Golden said. “It was really rewarding.”
Equally rewarding is the day-to-day work of Pathfinder within the community, and promoting that effort is one reason behind sponsoring an event like the 2K run.
Pathfinder is a home health care agency that specializes in providing physical, occupational and speech therapy to children with special needs. Serving Houston and the surrounding area, the company operates from locations in The Woodlands, College Station and Sugar Land. Golden said new locations are planned for South Houston and possibly Waco.
Pathfinder’s therapists see children in their homes for a variety of reasons, working with infants through age 21. Diagnoses include developmental delays, autism and more severe cases such as brain injuries. Depending on the specific needs of a child, Golden explained, therapists provide occupational, speech or physical therapy.
“What people often see is that speech therapy is identified as the first need,” explained Golden. “They go to the pediatrician, and he has them seen for speech therapy. If [the parents] don’t know that there is a problem from birth, then it seems to come up when they observe that their child is not talking as much as other children.”
Most of us think of physical therapy for recovering from something like a broken leg, an actual injury, said Golden. But for young special-needs patients, he explained, physical therapy can be as basic as building a strong core so that they can sit up on their own, or simply being used to develop balance that will benefit a child’s daily activity.
That explains the physical and speech therapy services Pathfinder provides. But why would children need occupational therapy?
“Adult occupational therapy is for work,” said Golden. “With these kids, it is for activities of daily living. We teach them how to swallow or chew their food. We teach them to use larger spoons or forks.”
Much of the hard work between therapists and patients is accomplished through games and play, and running an organized race fits right in.
“This teaches children and their parents that quitting is no option, perseverance is a key component to success, and these types of events can be life-changing,” Golden said. “The patients that Pathfinder sees, not all of them are going to be able to do this [annual race], but it’s nice to have the opportunity to promote health and wellness in the community.”
Pathfinder Pediatric Home Care
318 Briar Rock Road, The Woodlands
This story appears in the May 2012 edition of Motivate.
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