UCP students first Boilermaker 'better' than expected
Observer-Dispatch - 7/14/2019
UTICA -- When the Upstate Cerebral Palsy students and staff took part in Sunday's 42nd Boilermaker, everything didn't necessarily go as planned.
In fact, it went better than Ben Phelps imagined it would.
Phelps, a New Hartford native and behavior specialist assistant at UCP's Chadwicks campus, created a program for UCP students to run the Boilermaker 5K. He was all smiles at the Post-Race Party with his blue "Team UCP" shirt on, talking about his fellow staff members and the five UCP students who dedicated their time and energy to participate in the famed road race -- many of them for the first time.
"Once we got to the starting line, I really had no doubts that they could finish," said Phelps, who has now participated in 11 Boilermakers between the 5K and 15K. "Seeing them finish, it was even better than I could have expected. A lot of the kids ran faster than they ever did in training, which I guess can happen when conditions are as great as they are."
"I'm almost speechless when I stop and think about what we've accomplished," Jeremy Earl, senior vice president for education at UCP for 19 years who ran his first Boilermaker on Sunday.
"To be able to present this to a large number of students, to have seen how much work the staff did to get them prepared, to make sure they were safe, to see the support the staff gave during the race, it was an incredible experience and opportunity. It really was inspiring to see how everyone was able to support these students in accomplishing a major goal for them."
Phelps estimated that everyone finished the 5K between 30 and 38 minutes. They rested at each water stop -- where the students playfully dumped water on his head -- and the students ran a pace faster than the staff anticipated.
The race went so well that UCP's Chadwicks location hopes to expand the opportunity to the Utica and Rome tradewinds next year. Phelps said some students are "super capable" of running the 15K in 12 months.
Along with Phelps and Earl, UCP staffers Linley Bingham, Susan Bord, Maelynn Clarke, Rochelle Delia, Brittany Duncan, Mathew Fredericks, Tim Lafferty, Lindsee Lowery, Anne Sahm and Kristin Sittg all ran the course alongside the students.
"I feel extremely proud of the students, obviously, but I'm so proud to have run with this staff," Phelps said. "A lot of them are first-time Boilermaker runners that I think had doubts about themselves in the winter. ... It was just as amazing to see them finish. Everybody had a great time. It was a good day."
Contact reporter Marquel Slaughter at 315-792-4963 or follow him on Twitter @OD_Slaughter.
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