26 miles for 26 jobs: ADEC employee running marathon to get clients hired
Posted: 03/27/2013 at 11:30 am
By: Angelle Barbazon
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Steve Germani, the marketing/development manager at ADEC in Goshen, trains for the Chicago Marathon Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at Goshen College. In lieu of taking the traditional path of raising money for his marathon run, Germani is instead hoping to find employers for 26 ADEC clients ó one for each mile of the marathon. (Truth Photo By Ryan Dorgan)
For the next seven months, Germani will be training to run in the Chicago Marathon, a race that draws thousands of people to the Windy City every year. But instead of collecting pledges for his favorite nonprofit group, Germani wants to do something truly life changing for clients at ADEC Inc., an organization that works with children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. For every mile that he runs in the marathon, he hopes to get an ADEC client hired.
ďI just donít think thereís anything more impactful than having the ability to contribute,Ē said Germani, ADECís marketing and development manager. ďI think itís a basic need, and sometimes itís taken for granted or overlooked, and thereís just this whole pool of people who are no different. They just want an opportunity to contribute. Even just earning a paycheck of their own is a huge deal. It changes your life, and so if we can move that metric, itís a good thing.Ē
The employment rate for people with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 is slightly more than 22 percent, according to the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. That figure is far too low, Germani said.
ďWhether itís a good economy or a bad economy, whether itís here locally or somewhere in California or New York, it doesnít matter,Ē he said. ďAcross the board, that metric of employment for people with disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities, it just never moves. Nothing happens, and I think there are a lot of reasons for that, but my hope is doing something like this will help move that metric here locally just a little bit.Ē
ADECís employment services division provides job coaching for clients with disabilities and works with businesses to develop jobs in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties. The program serves more than 350 men and women, most of whom are still looking for jobs.
ďWhen people think of ADEC, they probably often think of our day programs or our group homes or our transportation systems, but employment is not only a very important program that ADEC offers, but Iíve always felt like it has the potential to have the greatest impact on the quality of life for our clients,Ē Germani said.
The 26.2-mile race in Chicago on Oct. 13 will be Germaniís first full-length marathon, though he has run in a couple of half marathons. He has been keeping in shape by jogging at the indoor track at Goshen College and playing basketball. In May, Germani plans to intensify his workout routine by running four days a week and gradually lengthening his distance each month.
ďItís going to take some discipline of me to get up every day to go run, and Iíll have to keep reminding myself why Iím doing this,Ē Germani said. ďTo a certain extent, I think thatís true for our clients and employers as well. There has to be a commitment made to really want to make it work and make it happen.Ē
Finishing a marathon has been a long-time personal goal for Germani, but more importantly, he wants to educate the public about the skills and talents ADECís clients can contribute to the workforce.
ďThereís not a doubt about it. Itís going to be hard, but I see a lot of parallels there,Ē he said. ďYou kind of have to make a decision as to whether or not you want it, and I think itís very similar for our clients. Itís not easy for them sometimes to go find employment.Ē
Germani will be chronicling his journey leading up to the Chicago Marathon on ADECís new blog online at www.adecstandsout.wordpress.com and the organizationís downloadable smartphone app.