The Children's Institute Blog

Join The Amazing Runners for the Team Alex Fund Run

Posted: May 08, 2017 by The Children's Institute

The Team Alex Fund started in 2009 around a four-year-old Pittsburgher with a rare spinal disorder. This year, they’re looking for you.

Organizers are throwing the Eighth Annual Team Alex 5K/5-Mile Run, Walk and Hand-Cycle on Saturday, May 20, starting at 9 a.m. at the North Park Boathouse in Allison Park, Pa. Post-race festivities include food and beverages, a DJ, awards ceremony, a 50-yard dash for kids, and a Chinese auction. Those interested in taking part can register online at

The Children’s Institute team – should you choose to join us – is called The Amazing Runners.
The walk event is the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser, and has helped it fund more than $150,000 in grants and awards during the past eight years, said Christine O’Brien, a Team Alex Fund board member who’s also a social worker at The Children’s Institute.

“It really does help so many kids – insurance does not fund ramps or home modifications and these are large expenses that most families cannot afford,” Christine said. “Some of the grants from Team Alex have helped past patients from The Children’s Institute-we have helped fund ramps, adaptive computer equipment, bathroom modifications and funding towards an adapted van.”

Alex Brown, now 11, first was diagnosed as a young boy with an extremely rare Spontaneous Spinal Epidural Hematoma, which left him paralyzed and weak.

Alex made significant progress at The Children’s Institute and the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery at the University of Louisville.

He no longer needs a feeding tube, and breathes normally without a tracheotomy. He even has hand-cycled during past Team Alex races and participates in a number of other adapted sports.

Board member Melissa Pavlowsky first met Alex when he was an inpatient at The Children’s Institute, where she works as a recreational therapist, around seven or eight years ago. He left an impression.

“He was really shy at first, but really motivated to work really hard,” Melissa said. “You could tell then, at four years old, he had a competitive drive in him and wanted to succeed.”

“Just being able to have a good turnout at the race helps so many people,” she added. “It’s so exciting to see how much it’s grown and evolved over the years.”

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