By Christine Bryant
“There’s a place for everyone in this world.”
Those are the words of Vito Nocero, who has inspired a movement to raise awareness about a silent and deadly condition that took his life at the age of 26.
Now in its fourth year, the Super FUN Run spreads information about Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, a genetic heart condition that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people.
This year’s event, which is a 5K run/walk, will be held Oct. 22 at Jackson Middle School, 2271 Holton Road, Grove City. Registration for the run/walk begins at 8 a.m., followed by the start at 9 a.m. Proceeds from the event go to the Marburn Academy Vito Nocero Scholarship Fund and the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Special People in Catholic Education (SPICE) program.
Organizers of the run/walk say they believe everyone is a hero, which is why participants are encouraged to come dressed as heroes.
Denise Johns, one of the event’s organizers, says Nocero, who died in 2013, had a hidden issue with his heart that had not been diagnosed. As the 5K grows, she says one of the goals is to start spreading more information about SADS, as well as the testing that can help prevent deaths.
Each year in the United States, 350,000 die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias, according to the SADS Foundation. Almost 4,000 of them are younger than the age of 35.
“Our hope is that the event grows and we continue bringing awareness to this,” Johns said. “It was very sudden – he was very young.”
The event also provides support to his family, who have long played a role in the Grove City community, she said. Vito’s mother, Kim, is the music teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and she and her husband, Rinzy, own the Sunny Street Cafe on London Groveport Road.
Each year, the event has raised more than $5,000 to support several initiatives within the SPICE program, which provides funds that give the students at Our Lady opportunities for specialized programs that help meet their individual educational needs.
Some of these initiatives have included training teachers in the Orton Gillingham method, a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading; providing Spanish to all students in kindergarten through fifth grade in part from a grant; and giving additional resources through grants to teachers that directly impact student success.
Registration fee is $40, and is available online at vito5k.com. All registrants will receive a raffle ticket to win one of many gift baskets, as well as a T-shirt until supplies last.
The event also will include several activities for children, including games, face painting and balloon sculptures.
For more information about Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, go to sads.org.