Out of the hundreds of classrooms at Walled Lake Central High School, it was outside of math teacher Ned Stojkovic’s that Drew Clayborn, a sophomore at the time, decided to do a backflip. And it was Stojkovic who stepped out of his classroom to see screaming kids, shocked teachers, and Clayborn on the ground with his neck broken. It was also Stojkovic who administered CPR to Drew until EMS arrived.
The date was March 26, 2010, just one day before Stojkovic’s organization, Passion for Life, was to hold its third annual 5K/5 Mile Run to benefit University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and a designated family in the area.
“Drew actually did his backflip right outside my classroom the day before the run,” Stojkovic said. “Such an unusual coincidence — hundreds of teachers in the high school, and it happened outside of my classroom.”
Another coincidence is that this year’s run happens to fall on the exact anniversary of Drew’s accident, which has left him paralyzed from the neck down. Therefore, it’s only fitting that the Clayborn family has been designated as the family that will benefit from this year’s Passion for Life 5K/5 Mile Run fund-raiser.
Stojkovic, who grew up in Walled Lake and graduated from Western High School, founded the non-profit organization in 2008.
As a track and field coach, he was looking for a fund-raiser that would help benefit children by supporting the research conducted at Mott Children’s Hospital.
“There’s nothing more noble than protecting our children’s futures,” Stojkovic said.
Shannon Waybrant, the organization’s marketing director, agrees.
“The most rewarding part is to know that you are helping save the lives of young children within our community and within the community of Mott Children’s Hospital,” she said.
The original inspiration for the event was a fellow coach and teacher of Stojkovic’s whose daughter was born with a congenital heart defect. Since then, the race has raised funds for two other families with children who suffered from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy (HSAN), respectively. In addition to supporting the families, additional funds are donated to Mott Children’s Hospital for research.
Each year the number of race participants and the funds raised have grown.
“It was the biggest 5K in the Midwest for the month of March last year,” Stojkovic said.
Both Stojkovic and Waybrant are hoping the race will be even bigger this year.
This year’s race will support spinal cord research, in addition to raising money for Drew, who has since returned to school, where he participated with the marching band and was named to the Homecoming Court.
The race will be held on Saturday, March 26 in downtown Walled Lake at the Bayside Sports Bar and Grille. Vendors will be present, as will Amp Radio 98.7 FM, which will be broadcasting live from the race.
Registration is from to 7-10 a.m. with the race starting at 10 a.m. There will be both a 5K run/walk and a 5 mile “Run Around the Lake.”
The fee to register on race day is $20 for those 12 and under, while those older must pay $35. For those wishing to pre-register online at www.passion5k.com, the fees drop to $15 for participants 12 and under and $30 for everyone else. The race fees include a long sleeve T-shirt.
Those wishing to raise funds for the race can also request a pledge packet. You must raise $100 in pledges to participate and all packets are due by Friday, March 18.
Those wishing to make a donation can do so at the www.passion5k.com or by making out a check to Passion for Life Organization and sending it to 2380 Bevin Court, Commerce, Mich. 48382.