10th Annual Birch Family Services 5K: Fast Track to Empowerment Race Raises $100,000

Birch Family Services’ 10th annual 5K: Fast Track to Empowerment race was held in Central Park on July 9, 2022, bringing hundreds of children, families, staff, volunteers, partners, and Board members to help raise funds to support people with autism and developmental disabilities. The event was an overwhelming success, exceeding Birch’s fundraising goal of $100,000!  

This year’s 5K: Fast Track to Empowerment race was held in-person for the first time since October 2019 and was hosted at Central Park for the first time ever. Birch’s annual 5K is an event that brings all our stakeholders together to celebrate the potential and abilities of all, raise awareness, and raise additional resources to help Birch Family Services deliver the excellence and expertise that the people we support, and their families can expect from our schools, day services, and employment programs each day.  

“Our annual race is critical to our success in providing outstanding educational, employment and community support services across the city,” said Matt Sturiale, President and CEO of Birch Family Services. “Thank you to every sponsor, partner, volunteer, and participant who helped us reach our goal this year and continues to be an advocate and a friend of our organization. I’m truly grateful for how much we’ve accomplished.” 

For some of our participants, the event was a chance to catch up with friends and make some new ones while walking or supporting the race. Many challenged themselves by running the full 5k course as well.

“It was my first 5k, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s all about trying your best,” said New Frontier participant Ronell Culbengan.

“I did a little bit of running but not too much, and I did some walking,” added New Frontier participant TJ McAskill.

For those that turned out for the race, as volunteers, sponsors or participants, their support helped make the day the success that it was. Each 5K attendee helped Birch’s effort to provide children, adolescents, and adults with autism and developmental disabilities the opportunities to reach their fullest potential. 

“I ran to support the fantastic programs and services at Birch,” said first place winner and Young Professionals Board Member Bradley Paternostro. “It’s an honor and a privilege to support such a great organization.” 

Click here to find our full photo gallery from the event.

You can find the full list of winners below: 


1st Place – Male: Bradley Paternostro 

1st Place – Female: Izzy Villalba 

2nd Place – Male: Danny Gallegos 

2nd Place – Female: Hannah Collins 

3rd Place – Male: Kieran Fink 

3rd Place – Female: Susan Lin 

Top Fundraising Team: Team Sammy 

“I want to thank all the racers and walkers who supported us and everybody who fundraised and contributed to our Birch Family Services,” said TJ.