SRU Physician Assistant students to host ‘heroic’ 5K run/1-mile walk


average joe in superhero cape

March 22, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was unleased upon moviegoers in 2008, the public consciousness has been inundated with superheroes and superheroines adorned in brightly colored attire coming to the aid of those in need.

Harrisville Superhero 5k

However, at Slippery Rock University, it is not the Hulk or Captain America swooping in to save the day, but rather graduate student volunteers ... who strangely enough will be wearing costumes as part of the April 8 "Harrisville Superhero 5K," a 5K run and 1-mile fundraising walk for persons with and without special needs. As a disability-friendly event, the race will offer sidekicks to push wheelchairs or run alongside other competitors.

The event, hosted by SRU physician assistant students, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Harrisville Community Park. Race volunteers will be decked out in superhero garb as a way to connect with participating special needs children.

"We wanted to dress up for the kids we'll be supporting in order to make the event more relaxed," said Deepa Mani, a PA graduate student from Slippery Rock. "There is most likely a lot of stress involved in their lives, so we hope that this day will be fun for them."

Deepa Mani


Mani is one of eight students who helped create the 5K initiative. A member of the inaugural PA class at SRU, Mani said the inspiration for the race was sparked from her program's emphasis on service.

"As PAs, there is always a great value placed on finding ways to aid our community," Mani said. "Our class places a real focus on helping the special needs population and felt that the Superhero 5K was a tool to help accomplish that."

Proceeds from the race will be donated to the Sewickley-based Laughlin Children's Center, a non-profit organization offering "multi-disciplinary education support services to children from preschool through high school."

The center, which annually assists more than 1,500 children from Alleghany and other surrounding counties, offers individual tutoring, study skills, speech-language and occupational therapies, counseling and Orton-Gillingham instruction for students with dyslexia.

While the goal of race organizers is to raise awareness and donations for special needs children, Mani expects the 5K will be as life changing for her as could be for the community.

"Having the opportunity to interact with these children, to serve them and to spend time with them, will better me as a person and as someone looking to my future and career.

"A superhero is so much more than someone with special powers. They can be anyone who just makes a different for another person, no matter how big or small."

Registration for the event, which is open to the public, is required and is priced at: $30 for general public; and $20 for students. Competitors with special needs are free.

To register or donate online, visit: Race day registration will begin at 9 a.m.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 |