Puzzle Hustle

Saturday morning run benefits Hope Helps

    It was a perfect day for a run through the leaves as Hope Helps hosted its Puzzle Hustle, a 5K run/walk to support the organization’s mission of providing scholarships, research and advocacy to those living with autism and their families.
    The changing color of the trees created the perfect backdrop for the Saturday morning run through the Coal City Area Club.
    Brittney Kaluzny, the organization’s founder and president, reports the Oct. 21 event drew 62 participants, down about 50 percent from the previous run, but a welcome turnout for a good cause.
    The run/walk to benefit Hope Helps took a little break to provide organizers time to finish work on the all-inclusive playground it built last year in Coal City’s Lions Park. With new projects on the horizon the non-profit was ready to run again, and at 9 a.m. sharp runners stepped off for two laps around the paved club roads  for a total of 3.2 miles.
    Byran Perino, of Coal City took an early lead and maintained his position at the head of the pack to claim gold with a time of 22:25.
    Kyle Ulivi finished the race with a time of 26:56 to earn a second place and Tim Bowman finished third with 29:14 on the clock.
    Melissa Johnson was the first female to cross the finish line with a time of 28:04. She was followed by Angie Aranda with an official time of 28:54 and finishing one second ahead of her husband, Tim, Cindy Bowman  claimed the bronze medal with a time of 29:13.
    About 20 minutes after the runners took off, the walkers and children joined in for a lap with some walking, a few running and others peddling bikes and pushing stollers.
    “We had several kiddos who ran the entire first lap with parents chasing behind them, and many families walking together,” Kaluzny said.
    In addition to medals going to the top three male and female finishers, Hope Helps held a costume contest. Several participants came in Halloween costumes while many others were wearing attire featuring puzzle pieces, the symbol for autism awareness.
    The team of Carrie, Landon and Adalyn Troll and Stephanie Vahle took first place in their handcrafted super hero costumes featuring colorful puzzle pieces.
    Robert David Kaluzny, who came as Cake Wars host Jonathan Bennett, earned second place and third place went to Landon Reeb, who came as Rusty Rivets.
    Additionally, there was face painting courtesy of Lana Eilertson and sensory activities to keep participants busy until the start of the race.
    Refreshments at the finish line were provided by Advocare and everyone who registered left with an event T-shirt and goody bag.
    “It was a great day to see so many families out together,” Kaluzny said.