BETHLEHEM, Pa. | Via of the Lehigh Valley announced on Wednesday that to sharpen focus on its core mission, it will no longer host the Via Marathon or Via All-Star Basketball Classic.
Due to the pandemic, company officials stated that maintaining these events would take away necessary resources they felt were needed for other purposes, such as supporting individuals with disabilities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led us to make difficult decisions to ensure we continue to fulfill our mission of helping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities reach their full potential within new financial and safety constraints,” said Lisa Walkiewicz, President and CEO of Via of the Lehigh Valley. “It is vital that Via devote its resources to providing our life-sustaining services to support the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Others also stated that the time and financial commitment these events required took too much focus away from other initiatives. In light of not holding these programs due to the pandemic, members of Via's board of directors said without them, the company could better allocate time and resources.
“It requires an enormous commitment of agency resources to plan and execute the Via Marathon and the Via All-Star Basketball Classic,” said Michael Keller, Chair of the Via Events, Inc. Board of Directors. “After careful consideration and deliberation, we determined that we could no longer devote the extraordinary resources needed to put on these events in the future.”
Though Via has made the decision to abandon two very popular initiatives, other organizations in the Lehigh Valley community are standing in support due to the mission that Via aim to focus more attention on.
“We are proud to partner with Via of the Lehigh Valley to ensure that people with developmental and intellectual disabilities live fulfilling lives as vital members of our community,” said Ken Szydlow, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of St. Luke’s University Health Network. “We will continue to support this mission and encourage other Via event sponsors to join us.”
“We are so thankful to all of our community partners who shifted their event sponsorships to directly fund our services,” Walkiewicz said. “We truly appreciate all the support of everyone in our community who cares about our mission.”
Walkiewicz also went on to note that she hopes other members of the community, alongside with St. Luke's University Health Network, will continue to support Via's goals. She stated that other's support and donations helped the company continue their mission, and keep them afloat.
“This support helps fill the gap between government payments and the true cost of providing our essential services," Walkiewicz stated. "We hope that other sponsors and supporters of the St. Luke’s Via Marathon and Via All-Star Basketball Classic will take the opportunity to continue their support of our mission by providing direct financial support of our services.”
Via helps people reach their full potential, company officials stated. Via provides services to about 1,250 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, Bucks and Berks counties.
These services include vocational exploration, community employment, educational activities, volunteer and recreational opportunities for teens and adults, and early intervention therapies and inclusive education for young children, according to Via.
Visit their website to learn more about Via’s services and how people can help.