By Alex Kushel
Sun Sentinel Correspondent
Feb 03, 2022 4:13 PM
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The 10th annual Barrier Free 5K will take place at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at Congress Avenue Barrier Free Park in Boynton Beach. The proceeds from the event will be used for the park’s expansion, which is designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
The event will begin at Barrier Free Park, 3111 S. Congress Ave., and stretch into Hunters Run Country Club before circling back to the park. The Barrier Free 5K will consist of walkers, runners and rollers with seniors, adults, students, teens and children participating. The registrants will receive race shirts and finisher medals while also being recognized for age group and overall awards.
The night before the 5K, the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center Magic Wheels and Special Deals event will take place at Centennial Park, 120 E. Ocean Ave., in Boynton Beach from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11. Jason Legienza, an 11-year-old who is unable to walk or talk, will receive a custom Magic Wheels fantasy creation wheelchair for the first time.
Valerie Mathieu is director and co-founder of Chariots of Love, the nonprofit organization that provides free mobility equipment for children up to age 21. Mathieu and her committee team from Chariots of Love selected the child and had seven volunteer members build the fantasy creation.
“The fantasy creation is only known to the people in the committee and our build team,” she said. “It’s designed to be handmade and we put our heart and soul into it. It’s totally unique and we make it appropriate as possible for the candidate. It’s made with so much love. It’s very rewarding to be part of this team. It’s thrilling and we are proud. I love it.”
Jason, who was born with cytomegalovirus and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, will also serve as the honorary starter at the Barrier Free 5K.
“Jason has a great smile and personality,” Mathieu said. “He is a very happy boy.”
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Mathieu’s organization Chariots on Ice also provides an opportunity for adaptive sports participants to enjoy sled hockey, which will return in March.
Stephanie Soplop, ADA Title II coordinator at the city of Boynton Beach, said the Magic Wheels and Special Deals event will take place the night before the Barrier Free 5K for the sixth consecutive year. The event will include food trucks, children’s activities and music. The city has an inclusion support team with agencies supporting individuals with disabilities. Local organizations and vendors will have the opportunity to sell products created for individuals with disabilities. The event will also include an inflatable bounce house sensory experience, deaf magician, deaf face painter and DJs who are differently abled adults. The mobile wheelchair accessible mat will also be present to assist individuals with disabilities. The wheelchair unveiling will begin at 6 p.m. with support from Chariots of Love and Little Wolf Carpentry.
“It’s really a fully inclusive event for everyone to feel welcomed,” Soplop said. “We are very grateful for the support from the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center. The event is bigger and better each year and more inclusive. It’s a free event and fun the entire night. The unveiling of the Magic Wheels creation is a happy moment with tears of joy and we want to share with everyone.”
The city of Boynton Beach also hosts family friendly events at Centennial Park. Concerts take place the first Friday of each month at Centennial Park and will continue to run for the entire year. There are also seasonal outdoor movies on the third Friday of each month, which will conclude in February.