Run for Willie; 5K will raise funds to support autism program

Published 10:34 am Thursday, August 14, 2014

A senior project is raising funds to help support a local boy.

McKenzie Kirtz, 17, is organizing a 5K fundraiser for Willie Noterman on Saturday, Aug. 16, to raise funds for a program to help with his autism.

“He has autism, down syndrome, and intermittent explosive behavior, and he’s a darling,” said Willie’s mother, Karen Noterman.

Email newsletter signup

Because Minnesota doesn’t have any programs that help with both low IQ and behaviors, Willie is currently in Chileda, a program in La Crosse, Wisconsin, that works with both challenges. The program costs $300 a day, but because it is not in Minnesota, the state won’t cover the costs. Southland Schools District and the family’s insurance have covered costs through August, but after that Willie will have to quit the program, about 10 months short of the average year and-a-half stay.

Kirtz decided to hold this 5K to help offset some of the cost for the Noterman family.

“I thought it’d be neat to organize a 5K because I’m always running,” Kirtz said. “I’m really excited; I’ve had a good response so far. The community’s so great.”

Kirtz and Willie have been neighbors for many years, and their families have been good friends through their church. Karen was excited when Kirtz wanted to hold the fundraiser for them.

“She wanted the fund to go to somebody she knew,” Karen said. “I think it’s sweet; I think it’ll be helpful. I’m very touched.”

Kirtz hoped to find something people would care to run for, and she did. She said the turnout has been good so far, and she is happy to be helping people where she can.

“It’s the fact that I get to help a neighbor out,” Kirtz said.

The fundraiser will be held at Sacred Heart Church in Adams. Registration/packet pickup is from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on race day, and the race will begin at 9:30 a.m.


Registration information is available online at