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2.24.12 - The Prayers From Maria Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation Once Again Named Presenting Sponsor of Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Health & Fitness Expo

Organization for Autism Research also named presenting charity for 5K

CLEVELAND (Feb. 24, 2012) - The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, celebrating its 35th annual running on May 20, 2012, has announced that a pair of presenting sponsors have returned for the second consecutive year.

The Prayers from Maria Children's Glioma Cancer Foundation will once again be the presenting sponsor of the Health & Fitness Expo. In addition, the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) will serve as the presenting charity for the Rite Aid Cleveland 5K.

The Health & Fitness Expo, which is free and open to the public, will take place Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 at the International Exposition (I-X) Center, located near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The 5K and Kids' Run take place on May 19, while the marathon, half marathon and 10K are all run on Sunday, May 20.

"We're pleased to have these two wonderful charities back on board for the 2012 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon," said Jack Staph, Executive Director of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. "The Prayers from Maria Foundation and OAR both mesh perfectly with our mission to not only put on a world class race, but to provide the opportunity for charities to partner with the race to advance their cause."

The Health & Fitness Expo presented by Prayers From Maria Children's Glioma Cancer Foundation features nearly 115 booths with more than 50 vendors featuring health and fitness products and information. Course talks featuring pace team leaders and other running experts are also a popular feature of the Expo. The event also serves as a final chance at registration for any races not yet sold out. The Expo is open May 18 from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on May 19.

The Prayers From Maria Children's Glioma Cancer Foundation was started by Ed and Megan McNamara, whose 7-year-old daughter, Maria, died in July 2007, just a little over a year after being diagnosed with a Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). The Foundation is dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for the deadliest childhood brain tumors known as gliomas; raising public awareness about gliomas and bringing hope to children and their families who deal with the hardships of this disease. For more information on the Prayers From Maria Foundation, please go to www.prayersfrommaria.org. 

As presenting charity of the 5K race, OAR will have naming rights, be listed on the marathon's marketing and promotional materials and gain publicity in front of thousands of runners for its cause and RUN FOR AUTISM program. In addition to its duties as presenting charity, OAR has set three goals to accomplish during its sponsorship: bring the greater Cleveland autism community together around the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, raise $30,000 to fund a research study, and open the door to greater support and collaboration between area autism organizations. This year's RUN FOR AUTISM Team will support OAR's partnership with Milestones, a local autism group, and scholarships for 15 parents and teachers on the team to attend Milestones' conference in June.

The 5K event, now in its fourth year, allows participants the rare chance to finish on the field of a professional football team. All participants begin outside of Browns Stadium and conclude their 3.1-mile race on the Browns' field. Friends and family are able to wait for their participant in the stands.

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) is a national, nonprofit organization formed and led by relatives of children and adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome. OAR is dedicated to promoting research that can be applied to help families, educators, caregivers and individuals with autism find much-needed answers to their immediate and urgent questions. The RUN FOR AUTISM is OAR's signature fundraising effort. Further information can be found at www.researchautism.org/news/run/.

The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon offers the following opportunities for people to participate in the event: full marathon, half marathon, 10K, full marathon walking division, half marathon walking division, 10K walking division, 5K (run or walk) and Kids' Run. The events take place May 19 and 20, 2012. To register for any of the events, or learn more, visit www.clevelandmarathon.com. Last year, both the full marathon and half marathon sold out and the 10K and 5K came close to reaching their respective caps as well, with 18,300 people competing over the course of the weekend. Race organizers are expecting at least 20,000 participants for the 35th annual event in May.

There are additional opportunities for non-profit organizations to raise funds through their participation in the race through Cleveland Marathon Charities, for which information can also be found at www.clevelandmarathon.com.

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