Most runners will tell you that they get a charge out of achieving a personal record (PR). But today, Sean Glassberg, who has completed five marathons and countless shorter races, is thrilled to just cross the finish line. Because his motivation isn’t his finish but the person in the running chair he is pushing.
Early experiences often influence the paths we take in life. Sean has a Master of Special Education, an interest he said was likely sparked back in middle and high school, where he would stick up for kids with disabilities who were bullied. His grandparents, who were always deeply involved in giving back to their community, were role models who inspired him to start his non-profit in 2011. “I was prompted to create Racers for Pacers after seeing a “60 Minutes'' episode on Rick Hoyt, a young man with Cerebral Palsy, whose dad, Dick Hoyt, would push and pull him in triathlons and marathons,” most famously, the Boston Marathon in which they were a fixture for close to 35 years.
Marrying his love of running with his desire to give back, Sean decided to raise money for running chairs. He reached out to Patterson Academy, a school based in West Ashley, that supports families with disabilities. “They said that if I got a running chair, they would pair me with a child.” Sean raised $2,500 for that first chair and met 9-year-old Catherine, now 21. Together, they ran the Bridge Run in 2011, and the Lowcountry charity expanded from there. Sean kept raising money, buying more chairs, and recruiting friends to join him. Today, Sean and his band of volunteers run with about 25 kids and young adults each year. His ultimate goal is 50.
Racers for Pacers' mission is to provide running chairs to families of individuals with disabilities who cannot run on their own. In exchange for the chair, the family agrees to participate in at least four local races per year. They might be 5Ks, 10Ks or longer competitive runs throughout the Lowcountry. The money they raise pays for chairs and race registrations.
With four kids of his own, Sean splits his time cheering for their respective sports teams and running Racers for Pacers. “I plan on being involved in this organization for the rest of my life,” he said, gratefully, pointing to a board that helps him run it successfully, and great advice from motivators and mentors, like Kim “Rooster” Rossiter, the President of a like-minded national organization called Ainsley’s Angels of America, who also sells Sean running chairs at a discounted rate.
If you’re inspired by Racers for Pacers, there’s an easy way to give back: register for their main fundraiser, the Catch the Leprechaun 5K, that takes place on Thursday, March 14th in Mount Pleasant, or contribute to their GoFundMe campaign at racersforpacers.org. There, you can also connect with a family who might have an interested racer, as well as fill out an application to be a pacer, pushing a race chair across the finish line. It might just be your best time in a race yet.