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A race is taking place today for runners who are willing to go just a little slower than usual in order to help a good cause.

“A Walk in Lauren’s Shoes” will be held at 10 a.m. at Woodlawn Beach State Park. Registered runners and walkers for the 3-kilometer distance will receive a pair of one-pound weights to wear on their legs while running. As you might guess, there’s a story behind that.

Lauren Walier has been battling cerebral palsy throughout her 16 years of life. She and her family were looking for a way to raise money for research to help fight the disease.

“When we were in New Jersey for an examination, a doctor gave us an analogy that struck a chord,” said Sherry Walier, Lauren’s mother. “He said that for a person who has CP who can walk, it’s like he or she has a 100-pound cinder block on each leg in getting through the day. It’s that taxing to the body.”

The weights, by the way, almost weren’t part of the day. Shipping delays caused the first batch to miss the deadline for getting to this area on time for the event.

Sherry had to go to a trusted associate at the last minute to get the job done.

“My dad jumped on board – he’s a guru when it comes to searching on the Internet – and tried to find out where we could replace them,” she said. “He came up with Walmart. They were the most inexpensive, so that’s what we’ll use.”

The longer version of Lauren’s battle – which has a Western New York connection – is much more inspirational.

“Lauren was 14 ounces at birth. She’s a miracle,” Walier said. “We were happy we had a daughter, but when we heard she had CP she was looking at physical therapy for her whole life.”

The Waliers live in the Atlanta area. Three times a week, Lauren is taken to a special treatment program that has helped her make great progress over the past few years.

“She started in a wheelchair, and suffered from fatigue. She didn’t have the energy to breathe,” Sherry said. “Immediately after a full day of treatment, she started sleeping through the night, regaining energy.

“Now after 3ø years, her energy keeps coming back. She progressed to a walker, and had a range of motion in muscles that she never had before. Now she’s in a one-arm crutch.”

With luck, Lauren’s leg braces will come off some day soon, which will mean regular shoes for her … which in turn will mean a joyful shopping spree in shoe stores.

During the past few years, Lauren decided to try to be a voice for those with CP who couldn’t use their own. There is no federal funding for cerebral palsy research.

“Lauren said this isn’t right. … If you don’t have funding, you don’t have developments that will correct it,” Sherry said.

The family formed a nonprofit foundation – the Make Lemon Aide Foundation for CP – last October, and decided to stage an event. When it was time to pick a location, the Waliers had only one place in mind.

“My husband and I were born and raised in Buffalo. This is our hometown,” Sherry said. “We love Buffalo. We come here every Christmas.

“Lauren has a lot of love here. She’s always said she was from Buffalo and claimed Buffalo to be her home, even though she was born in California. We have so many family roots here. It makes sense to launch an event here.”

The Waliers are hoping to spread the idea to other cities at some point, but that’s in the future. Today’s race is merely a start to a day’s worth of activities.

Included are live music, a chicken barbecue, auction, petting zoo and bounce house. All of that goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more information at MakeLemonAide.org.

Race calendar

• A Walk in Lauren’s Shoes, 3K, Woodlawn Beach State Park, Blasdell, 10 a.m. today, 432-3725.

• St. Mary’s Church Chowder Chase, 5K, 6919 Transit Road, East Amherst, 11:15 a.m. today, 636-4617.

• ESB Engineering Scholarship Run, 5K, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

• St. John Vianney Kickoff Run, 5K, 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 677-4039.

• East Aurora Rerun, 5K, Firemen’s Field, East Aurora, 9 a.m. Saturday, 655-6859.

• St. Amelia Amazingrace 5K, 210 St. Amelia Drive, Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Saturday, 834-5741.

• Wild 5K, 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, 10 a.m. Saturday, 569-2345.

• Jason Raby Memorial 5K Run, 4061 Creek Road, Youngstown, 11 a.m. Saturday, 754-8281.

• EVL-9 & EVL-4 Trail Runs, Holiday Valley Ski Resort, Ellicottville, 9:30 a.m. on July 27, 574-0888.

• Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race, 5K, 6909 Milestrip Road, Orchard Park, 10 a.m. on July 27, 667-3786.

• Run Jimmy Run Charity 5K, Coca-Cola Field, 10 a.m. on July 27, 802-2301.

email bbailey@buffnews.com