Thursday, May 14, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.

It's just 10 days until the big day. On Sunday, May 24th, I will be running the marathon in a relay with my Dad in order to raise money for the Special Olympics Program, The Heated Lions.

I have been following Hal Hignon's Novice Half Marathon Training Schedule, and this week consisted of a 9 mile weekend long run followed by a 3 mile, 5 mile, 3 mile run three of the days this week. The short runs have been pretty easy and relaxing for me; however, its the weekend long runs that have been tough. Because the runs are much longer, I have had to fuel my body with plenty of liquids and food during the run. I have been taking the fuel belt with me filled with several tiny water containers, powerbars, and bananas. Making sure I stay hydrated and fueled is one of the most important aspects for me when training for the big race.

The fundraising aspect has begun as I have created and sent out a letter explaining the race and the Special Olympics Organization that I am raising money on behalf of. So far we already have raised over $2,000, and it's only the first week! My goal is to raise at least $5,000 for the organization! Below is a copy of the fundraising letter that I have created and sent out to many supporters.

"Dear Friends and Family,

On Sunday, May 24th, my Dad and I will be running a relay in the Burlington Vermont City Marathon. My Dad will run the first 13 miles, and I will close out the last 13 miles to cross the finish line.

Four years ago, my Dad and I, along with the Bacon family, founded the first youth Special Olympics basketball team in Boston’s Metro-west area. Half the team wanted to be named the Miami Heat, and the other half the Detroit Lions. The athletes compromised on the Heated Lions, a program that provides young athletes with year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports. I’ve had the opportunity to give these many children with intellectual and/or physical disabilities the chance to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families and other Special Olympic athletes and the community. It has been my most rewarding experience throughout my time in high school, and I have grown to know and love each of the Heated Lion athletes.

In just four short years, we have gone from a team of only seven athletes participating in a rundown gym to two full teams of over 30 athletes in total, complete with uniforms, cheerleaders, practices at my high school’s new athletic center and our own website ( In addition, we have added a soccer and track team for the fall and spring.

Our long term goal for the Heated Lions program is to continue with the year round Special Olympic competition, but more importantly, to one day house athletes as adults, train them for the workforce and fulfill their dream to live independently. With your help we can make this goal a reality!

On behalf of the Heated Lions athletes and families, we thank you for your generous support.

Warm regards,
Liza Warshaver"

-Liza Warshaver

No comments: