A 5K, costumed run/walk, trunk-or-treat, live music, a beer garden and food trucks are all rolling into downtown Whitehouse on Saturday, October 16 for an event meant to celebrate and support direct support professionals (DSPs).
“We want to honor and highlight direct support professionals – the mentors who inspire transformational growth among individuals with development disabilities,” said Steve Upperco, who along with Madolyn Burke started the Platinum Filament 5K Costume Run/Walk in 2018 and have expanded plans for 2021.
The race begins at 9:00 a.m. with a route that leaves Whitehouse Park and winds around the small quarry and down the Wabash Cannon-ball Trail. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes for the timed run and walk, which is open to all ages.
Following the 5K is a trunk-or-treat for kids, awards for runners, live music, vendors, food trucks, face painting, a 50/50 raffle and a beer garden.
“DSPs partner with individuals with disabilities. It’s a role that often involves food, music, exercise, laughter and being outdoors, so that’s why we decided to include these elements in the event,” Burke said.
DSPs are on the front line of any agency that serves people with developmental disabilities, yet many in the community are unaware of the vital work they do every day, Upperco added.
“Our goal is to educate the public about developmental disabilities and the wonderful people who support, encourage and care for those ladies and gentlemen,” he said.
The name of the event was inspired by Mike, a client who Burke and Upperco mentored for years before he passed away.
Mike enjoyed light bulbs. In fact, the words “light bulb” were among the few in his vocabulary. When Mike was a young adult, he assisted the maintenance man on the grounds where he lived and worked. He would wear a utility belt and change light bulbs when they burned out.
“The platinum filament is the tungsten wire inside of a light bulb, through which an electric current is passed,” Burke explained. “Mike is gone now, but his light will always shine in the hearts of those who were fortunate to know him.”
Burke and Upperco founded Oak Leaf Pro-ductions LLC to celebrate, support and raise funds for DSPs. The Platinum Filament 5K is the nonprofit organization’s main event.
Don’t want to run? Bring a lawn chair to enjoy the free music, test out some food and shop from local vendors.