A Race That Hits Home

Brandon at the 1st Annual Brandon Motta Race.

Brandon at the 1st Annual Brandon Motta Race.

Runners are a charitable bunch of people. I’ve written about this before. Every year, we raise hundreds of millions of dollars for charity—over $700 million to be exact, according to USA Track & Field.

Many times, we run a big-name race like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and fund-raise for a large national charity in the process. I ran the ING New York City Marathon in 2007 for Team Continuum. Other times, we enter a local race that benefits a smaller charity, like the R Baby Mother’s Day Run in Central Park. I ran that one with my entire family in 2009. And many of us have also donated our time to charities such as Girls on the Run, like I did last December.

But rarely have I come upon a race like the one I’m about to run on Sunday. The 3rd Annual Brandon Motta 5K Run and 2 Mile Fun Walk is a true community effort to help one boy and his family.

Brandon is an 8-year-old boy from Riverside, R.I., who is living with CMT, a neuromuscular disorder that affects both motor and sensory nerves. Brandon lost mobility when he was 2 years old, and in 2007 underwent two surgeries to save his life and clear his weakened lungs. His health has improved since, but there is no known cure for CMT.

Now starting third grade, Brandon is confined to a wheelchair and uses a breathing device. Brandon’s family built a temporary ramp in front of their home so that he can enter the house on his own. Now, they need to make major renovations so that he can move around freely in his wheelchair and have a handicap accessible bathroom.

The adage “Charity begins at home” couldn’t be a more perfect description for this cause.

The goal of the Brandon Motta Fund is to raise more than $100,000 to renovate Brandon’s home to make it handicap accessible for him. The Run has raised $28,000 since 2008, and allowed the Motta family to purchase a handicap van. Now, the renovation project is underway. The outer structure of the house is complete, but a handicap bathroom and elevator still need to be installed.

 The 1st Annual Brandon Motta 5K Race at Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I.

The 1st Annual Brandon Motta 5K Race at Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I.

For the third iteration of the race in Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I., the Fund has attracted 19 corporate sponsors from the East Providence Fire Department in East Providence, R.I., to Fuel Belt, a national gear company for runners and triathletes.

I don’t know Brandon or the Motta family; I was planning a vacation in Rhode Island and thought it might be fun to run a race there. I found the Brandon Motta 5K Run through an online search, and was moved by the community’s efforts to make life as easy as possible for this little boy.

So if you’re nearby in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, join me on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. in Colt State Park for either the 5K race or the 2-mile fun walk. His uncle tells me that Brandon will be there, cheering us on.

Online registration is $25. Race Day Registration is $35. And for folks all over the country who want to be there in spirit, you can visit HelpBrandon.com to make a donation.

Karla Bruning is an award-winning journalist and running nerd. She has completed three marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning. To listen to an interview with Karla, check out The Marathon Show, available for streaming or download on BlogTalkRadio and iTunes.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


08 2010

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  1. Amanda #

    What a GREAT cause! Brandon is an adorable kid and that smile of his just melts your heart. Have a great time in the race and I wish I could be up there to support the race, too.


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