By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – A rainy morning May 10 cleared in time for the New England Center for Children's (NECC) eighth annual 5K Walk/Run for Autism, beginning and ending at Neary Elementary School. Over 1,200 runners and walkers participated, many of whom returned from previous years.
However, placing first overall in 16:26 was a newcomer to this and all 5K races, Mike McDonald, a sophomore at Framingham High School.
“It's a really great cause and the perfect way for me to do my first 5K,” he said.
Finishing a close second in 16:44 was a more familiar face to the race, Matthew Germain of Reading, who placed first overall the past four years.
“Last year, I joked that eventually a youth is going to catch up with me,” said Germain, who is age 32. “Sure enough, it happened.”
Germain runs this race in honor of his family friend, David Towle, a graduate of NECC.
“The school is doing a great job,” he added. “I hope more and more keep showing up for the race.”
The first-place female in 19:22 was Sally Dupere of Newton, a consultant at NECC. She was also the first-place female in this race in 2011 and 2012.
Runners, walkers and volunteers gathered afterward for a post-race barbecue.
Live music was provided by the band “White Collar Crime.” They'se been performing at this fundraiser since its early years when it was held at the Pilgrim Church with about 750 participants. The band's bassist, Bob Green of Lincoln, learned of the event through a neighbor whose son attended NECC. Kathleen O”Donnell of Milton is a vocalist in the band.
“We only do gigs for charitable events and this is our personal favorite,” she said. “That's because of the connections we have with people who have autistic kids who have been helped by the center. Two friends of mine are here raising money for their sons who are students at the school. They really appreciate us being here, and we really appreciate being a part of this.”
Also returning as they'se done annually were the volunteers of Southborough CERT/MRC including Carol Willoughby, MRC coordinator.
“This is a great wait to fundraise for these kids and they diversify the money in a lot of different places for them,” she said. “I's glad that Southborough is able to help them with this event.”
Over $165,000 was raised with additional donations expected to continue after the event.
Located on Route 9 in Southborough, NECC's mission is to transform the lives of children with autism worldwide through education, research and technology. For more information, visit necc.org.