On August 13th, 2021, Beth Mlady of Cleveland.com published a story about W.A.G.S. 4 Kids' Wonder Run 5K + 1 Mile Walk & Roll.
Runners of all ages participated in the fourth annual W.A.G.S. 4 Kids Wonder Run 5K on Aug. 7 in Berea. (Beth Mlady/Special to cleveland.com)
Presented by FirstEnergy and the Illuminating Co., the fourth annual Working Animals Giving Service event raised funds for its service dog training program, which benefits children who face personal challenges in their daily lives.
Moms and dads and kids arrived in various costumes and superhero attire. More than 100 runners of all ages and abilities took part.
From Batwoman to Captain America – with shield in hand, of course – it was a delightful sight to behold. Some dogs ran in costume as well.
Captain America and friends were all smiles as they arrived at Coe Lake for the W.A.G.S. 4 Kids Wonder Run. (Beth Mlady/Special to cleveland.com)
For Michelle Rupanovic, W.A.G.S. 4 Kids has been a godsend. Her family has had service dog Claire for two years. Claire assists Michelle’s 6-year-old daughter, Aubrey, who has multiple special needs.
“Claire has completely changed our lives as a family,” Rupanovic said. “Before we got Claire, we struggled going into restaurants and having family outings because it was too much for Aubrey to handle.”
She recalled when Claire attended Aubrey’s therapy session for the first time. The dog instinctively knew how to connect with and comfort Aubrey during an emotional meltdown.
“If you have an inkling a service dog could help your child, then look into it,” Rupanovic urged. “For us, it was life-changing.”
Charmaine and William Powell of Louisville, Kentucky, were in town visiting friends and decided to run the race.
“We always try to find a 5K with a cause anywhere we travel,” Charmaine explained, with William then emphasizing how important it is to help others.
“I had a kidney transplant about five years ago, so whenever we can find a cause, we try to support it because someone supported mine,” he said.
Nobody really knows what challenges someone may be facing, Charmaine added.
“It’s always good to think about that,” she said. “And give back when you can.”