PSL Services/STRIVE is hosting its annual 5K event, Strive for 5, from Sept. 18-20. Participants are able to complete the 5K on their own and wherever they wish. Courtesy photo of Whitney Wildes

SOUTH PORTLAND — The ninth annual STRIVE for 5, hosted by PSL Services/STRIVE, is going virtual this year to accommodate social distancing measures.

Participants can complete the 5K between Sept. 18 through 20, at their most convenient location, Whitney Wildes, program director for PSL Services/STRIVE said. Adult and teen registration is $30. There is no registration fee for children 12 and younger.

PSL Services/STRIVE is a nonprofit group based in South Portland that focuses on young adults ages 11 through 25 with learning disabilities, Wildes said. Through its 13 programs, the organization helps young adults gain independent living skills, like shopping for groceries and taking a public bus.

A Friday social night that takes place each week from 6 to 9 p.m. is an example of what is offered to teens. Usually, it is an in-person event, but the program has switched to online meetings for the moment.

“It’s a place where teenagers can go for a typical Friday night,” Wildes said. “When we came up with the program, parents had come to us and said, like, ‘Our son, Bobby, has friends at school but he’s not getting invited to the football games or to parties or events after school like some of his peers are.’ We have a big teen center that has pool, and basketball, video games, Foosball, board games, computers, anything you can think of for a Friday night, and we opened that up to whoever wants to use it.”

PSL Services/STRIVE has also created a virtual service, STRIVE Worldwide, that offers programs online for people out of state, she said.

“Kind of like how other colleges and school are switching to virtual learning, we wanted to try that as well,” Wildes said. “People in Florida or California were saying, do you have services for my child? We wanted to create something for people outside of our city or state that could benefit them. We do independent living skills online, and there is an online class portion and there’s also individual school work.”

Wildes said that PSL Services/STRIVE supports at least 1,000 individuals, and the 5K fundraiser will help support the group’s various programs.

About 150 people each year participate in the 5K event, she said.

“We’re hoping this year we can get even more people to participate since you don’t need to do it with other runners or on a specific date, so we’re hoping that broadens our participants list.”

The Strive for 5 5K is usually an in-person race, but this year it is going to be virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Runners and walkers can complete the course from Sept. 18-20. Courtesy photo of Whitney Wildes

When the race is in person, the course is as accessible for everyone participating as possible, Wildes said.

“It’s nice to see some of our participants, who might not look like a runner, do the race and come through the finish line,” she said. “If people are in a wheelchair, that’s fine. If people want to run or walk it, that’s fine.”

This year, the event will be combined with another fundraising event, Kevin on the Roof, Wildes said. Each year, one of the program’s volunteers stays on top of the Patriot Subaru roof in Saco until a fundraising goal is met. The donations raised during the 5K will go toward Kevin’s goal.

Everyone who completes the course will receive a T-shirt, she said. If people are not in the area, PSL Services/ STRIVE will mail shirts out.

For more information or to register, visit www.pslstrive.org/STRIVEforFive.

Courtesy photo of Whitney Wildes

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