News Article Details

Olympian to join Thursday's Firecracker fundraiser race in La Crosse

La Crosse Tribune - 7/4/2019

Jul. 3--An Olympian will be in the midst of the anticipated 600 participants in Thursday morning's Firecracker 4 Mile fundraiser race.

Emma Coburn, the 2017 steeplechase runner World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, will be poised at the Riverside Park startline at 7 a.m. on the Fourth to pound the pavement in support of autism awareness, local youth and athletes of all abilities.

Named one of Sports Illustrated's "Fittest 50" athletes and the winner of seven national titles, Coburn will likely best the 19:46 record set by local track star Sam Pinkowski two summers ago, but to her the Firecracker 4 Mile is about the people, not the prize.

"Small, family runs are great community events that bring people together," says Coburn, a Boulder, Colorado, resident whose husband and coach, fellow runner Joe Bosshard, hails from La Crosse. "I love the opportunity to be a part of an intimate race where we can all interact and be together while raising awareness for a good cause. ... I have a cousin with autism and am happy I have a chance to support him with this race. He is a great kid and I hope I can run fast and make him smile."

The Firecracker 4 Mile, sponsored in part by J.F. Brennan Co., has raised $50,000 for the Children's Museum of La Crosse and La Crosse Area Autism Foundation during the past four years and is known for its inclusive spirit, attracting runners from toddlers to the elderly for the 200 meter, quarter mile, half mile and full course routes, the longest which extends across the Cass Street bridge to Pettibone Park.

Along with Coburn, myTEAM TRIUMPH Wisconsin will make a first-year appearance at the race, with Aptiv's 2018 Miss RemarkAble Lois Schultz serving as captain.

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A nonprofit that pairs individuals with disabilities, called Captains, with able- bodied participants, called Angels, myTEAM TRIUMPH Wisconsin selected the Firecracker 4 Mile for its first La Crosse visit and Team Lois "couldn't be more excited" says mTT Wisconsin director of operations Karla Sturycz.

"What most people will see on race day is the brief moment where the captain is sitting in the (special racing wheelchair) with a couple of Angel athletes pushing them along," Sturycz said. "They will probably cheer, might pass out a high five and could even cry. But what those outside of mTT won't see is the journey that those individuals have gone through to get to that moment. Our team will meet each other for the first time on race morning but it will be the start of something very special. From that moment on, that team will forever be connected and share in those memories. It is that connection that makes mTT so important to me and to our state. No-one wants to be left out. No one wants to be alone. Whether you are a super athlete or have a severe cognitive disability, this is something that we all share and myTEAM TRIUMPH Wisconsin is here to help make sure that doesn't happen."

Asked if myTEAM TRIUMPH is excited to race alongside Coburn, Sturycz exclaimed, "Oh goodness, yes!" and Coburn herself is looking forward to the friendly faces in the Coulee Region, which she considers her second home.

"I have felt tremendous support from the La Crosse community, from my friends and family here, and from the people I've met in my 11 years of visiting ...," Coburn says. "The running community in La Crosse is great, and I know the event is going to have a lot of energy."

Coburn, who will be accompanied by 50 members of a relative's wedding party in "Red, White and I Do" T-shirts during the race, will save some energy for the superhero-themed youth races at 8:30 a.m. in Riverside Park, offering athletic youngsters some inspiration and encouragement.

"What better superhero for kids to interact with than a real-life Olympian?" says Anne Snow, director of the Children's Museum.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Firecracker 4 Mile

WHEN: 7 a.m. Thursday

WHERE: Riverside Park

DETAILS: Packets for participants or volunteers are available for pick up between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Children's Museum, 207 Fifth Ave. S., or at 6 a.m. Thursday at Riverside Park. The registration fee for the four mile course is $30 through July 3, or $35 the day of. All kids races are $5.

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Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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(c)2019 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)

Visit the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.) at www.lacrossetribune.com

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