Friedman participating in Saturday’s SPEAK event

Voorhees resident Michael Friedman used to run through the line of scrimmage, looking for linebackers to block, playing for Franklin & Marshall College. This April — Autism Awareness Month — the former college fullback will be running for a different cause.

Friedman, a first-term committeeman in Voorhees, will participate in an All Abilities 5K Run & 1-mile Run/Walk/Wheel hosted by Special needs Parents Educators and Kids (SPEAK), a Voorhees based non-profit organization. The race in on Saturday, April 13, at Voorhees Middle School. The event will raise money for SPEAK and awareness for childhood disabilities.

Friedman is conditioned to going the extra mile participating in four triathlons a year, but this race is more meaningful. His seven-year-old daughter, Mallory, has Autism.

Juliana Maffei, SPEAK’s chair and co-founder said Friedman’s dedication to Mallory motivates others.

“Mike’s just an inspiration,” Maffei said. “I mean as a parent his devotion to his daughter is really encouraging to other parents.”

Also, Friedman’s commitment to the organization keeps it going, according to Maffei.

“His work to help bring in funds for the organization is tremendous,” Maffei said. “He promotes it on Facebook, and he comes personally to events. That means a lot to this organization.”

Founded in 2009, SPEAK delivers social, educational and therapeutic programs at a low cost to Voorhees families of children afflicted with physical and neurological disabilities. SPEAK also seeks to raise awareness of disabilities throughout the region and uses events like the upcoming 5K to fulfill that mission.

Friedman hopes to increase awareness, too.

“We need to do as much as possible to ameliorate our children’s lives,” Friedman said.

For more information on SPEAK, go to

Registration begins at 8, the run will start at 9 and the 1-mile run/walk/wheel will start at 9:30 a.m. Participants can register in person. The 5K run is $25 and the 1-mile is $10.