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Machine Solutions Run and Walk for Kids

Runners break from the starting line at last year's Machine Solutions Run and Walk for Kids.

The Machine Solutions Run and Walk on Saturday, Aug. 4, is the largest annual fundraiser for the Children’s Health Center, a specialty outpatient clinic serving all of northern Arizona. This service of Northern Arizona Healthcare provides dedicated care to children and their families, more than 90 percent of whom are low-income and need assistance to receive medical help.

Services provided at the center include specialty clinics, audiology, nutrition and therapies such as physical therapy. The center’s therapists treat newborns to young adults, helping them reach their goals and improve their independence through therapeutic interventions.

As one of those therapists, I assist patients in meeting their full potential by providing therapies at Children’s Health Center and participating in community outreach programs. I’ve seen funds from the Machine Solutions Run help families and patients pay for equipment, medical care and other medical expenses the family would otherwise have to pay out of pocket, including pediatric wheelchairs, adapted bicycles and toothbrushes.

This year, we’ve added a new event to the Machine Solutions Run, thanks to Forest Country Anesthesia. The addition of the Children’s Health Center Kids Dash is a special run for patients and families of all abilities.

I’ve coached two special young dashers for this race. One is a young patient with spina bifida who has been participating in weekly therapies to improve balance, strength and agility for race day. This patient is very excited to use newly learned “superhero powers” to help complete the Kids Dash.

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The other will be racing in a gait trainer, a piece of equipment that helps a patient to stand and walk. The gait trainer was denied by insurance, but with funds raised through the Machine Solutions Run and Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation, this young patient was able to get the necessary equipment and is now training for race day.

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With the goal of standing independently, the child underwent multiple operations simultaneously. I’ve been working with this brave kid for the past 11 months, helping to achieve the big goal of racing in the Kids Dash.

While focusing on my patients’ physical needs, I strive to help them holistically, as well. I’m excited to cheer on all the young participants in the Kids Dash. They’re all superheroes, in my book.

Runners have a long history of supporting children’s health by taking part in the Machine Solutions Run, now celebrating 40 years. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do. You’ll be helping to improve the lives of children families throughout northern Arizona.

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A physical therapist in the Children’s Health Center at Flagstaff Medical Center, Muscarella was recently selected as the City of Flagstaff’s Advocate of the Year for her active role in supporting her patients and creating more opportunities within Flagstaff for children with special needs.

Julie Hammonds is coordinating editor for High Country Running. She invites submissions on any aspect of the local running scene. Send columns, tips and ideas to runner@juliehammonds.com or via Twitter @highcountry_run.

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