Home Charity Easterseals Strides for Disability 5k Run 3k Walk

Easterseals Strides for Disability 5k Run 3k Walk

By: Judy Shields

Long Beach, California (The Hollywood Times) – “Thank you all for coming out this morning to join Easterseals at our 17th Annual Strides for Disability walk/5k run.” Mark Whitley, President and CEO told the crowd that gathered before the 8 am 5k run in Long Beach Shoreline.

Strides for Disability T-Shirt (THT)

Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) – which assists more than 10,000 people with disabilities – held its 17th annual Strides for Disability walk, this past Saturday, Oct. 21 in Long Beach.

Nic Novicki crossing the 5k finish line Strides4Disability (THT)

Hosting this year’s event as emcees are actor/comedians Nic Novicki (Boardwalk Empire, Gotham Comedy Live), Johnny Cardinale (Chelsea Lately) and Brian Swinehart (Key & Peele, Conan).

Johnny Cardinale crossing the 5k finish line (THT)

Also “in the house” will be the Los Angeles Chargers with plenty of games and giveaways.

Brian Swinehart and his 1st place medal for his age group 5k (THT)

The Hollywood Times had the opportunity to speak the emcees.

Nic Novicki (Boardwalk Empire, Gotham Comedy Live) Nic Novicki is an actor, comedian and producer who has performed on six continents.

His television credits include: Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, AXS Gotham Comedy Live, Jack and Triumph, The Neighbors, Austin and Alley, Private Practice and Drop Dead Diva. He has appeared in several movies, such as Life Happens, November Rule, The Last 5 Years, Boston Girls and Breaking Wind and will soon be seen in the upcoming Dead Ant.

Nic has produced several feature films, television pilots and web series for companies including Sony, CBS, Air China, Maxim and Universal and is an active member in the Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Committee. Nic wrote for the CBS Diversity Showcase and has also written and directed several short films including A Little Broke, which was acquired by the TV station Shorts HD.

As a stand-up comedian, Nic has toured all over the world, including several tours for the troops overseas through Armed Forces Entertainment. He has performed stand up on AXS Gotham Comedy Live.

He is the founder and Director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

He has also done several Armed Forces Entertainment tours, performing for the troops in Kosovo, England, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France. Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Portugal, and Spain.

Photo (Easterseals)

Nic Novicki launched the Disability Film Challenge in 2014 in response to seeing disabilities underrepresented both in front of and behind the camera. As someone with a disability, Nic created the challenge to give aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work and provide them with meaningful exposure.

In 2017, Nic and Easterseals Southern California joined forces to expand the challenge, now known as the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. As the leading nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, Easterseals brings additional attention to the challenge, using its numerous communications channels to encourage participation.

Nic announced the dates for the 2018 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, check out his YouTube announcement here:

Friday, April 13 – Sunday April 15, 2018



Johnny Cardinale with a bucket of raffle tickets

Johnny Cardinale (Chelsea Lately) Comedian

THT: What brings out here to the Easterseals Strides for Disability?

JC: “I came out to help my friends Nic Novicki and Brian Swinehart to MC this event. I have known Nic for a long time, we lost touch, because I was traveling and he has been producing shows and we were at an Emmy’s party downtown and sitting next to each and we reconnected. I have been traveling entertaining our military, I have done 15 of those tours and I asked Nic if he would be interested in doing one of those with me and he said yeah! I had one come up six months later, so I called Nic up and I he has been on three tours all around the world with me entertaining our military. He got me involved with Easterseals over the last year and here I am today.”

THT: What is like being over there entertaining our troops

JC: “It’s a great honor and after a show they will stop by to thank me and I will tell them, no thank you for being here. They don’t like to be thanked. They are conditioned to know that it is their job, their duty and I believe it’s good that we go over there now and again to thank them and let them know they are appreciated.”

“I have been on a total of 15 so far and Nic has been on three of those with me. We have been through Germany, Romania, Hungary and we went to Egypt and went inside the big pyramid of Giza. It was amazing because at the time we were there, tourism was down 80-90%, so we had the pyramid all to ourselves, me Nic and two other comics. There was just the five of us in the Great Pyramid of Giza.”

“I have done shows here in the states for Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages over to them and also does things for the disabled here in the states.”

Johnny Cardinal Armed Forces Tour

Johnny said to go online and look up Operation Gratitude, Wounded Warriors and Easterseals and to volunteer their time. An hour a week or even an hour a month. You don’t have to give money, give your time to volunteer.

THT: What are you doing these days?

JC: ”I have been travelling. I just got back from Phoenix, and in Oregon before that and who knows what the next year will bring. I have been travelling the last 12 years non-stop. I want to stay in town more often, but I have to get out there and make a living.”

THT: Where do you see yourself in five years?

JC: “One of Two things, either having a very successful career as a voice over actor and then a writer, like a book or second having my own show in Las Vegas. I play guitar and see in my comedy act and it kind of a big show and I do it on Cruise ships and corporate gigs and a lot of people say I should do a Vegas show. To have it in my own Johnny Cardinale theatre would be great.”

He wants to write a book one day, go away in the woods and write it.

THT: Where and when is your next local area gig?

JC: “They are on my website and I will be performing in downtown Beaumont, California. I do it the third Saturday of the month at the Sand Trap Sports Bar. I bring three comics from LA and tonight we have Jodie Miller, who was just on America’s Got Talent and a couple of comics. I have been doing it for six years this past September.”

Johnny Cardinale at the Sand Trap Sports Bar, Beaumont CA


Johnny said he grew up in Calimesa, right next to Beaumont. Who would have known there is comedy in Beaumont!


Johnny is a stand-up comedian, actor, voice actor and singer/songwriter. Known for Bobby Khan’s Ticket to Hollywood (2011), Sparrow (2013) and Actors Entertainment (2009).

He also writes and produces short videos which you can see on YouTube and Instagram. Please follow him on both and Twitter!.

He has performed in all fifty states and forty-nine countries. You can hear his comedy on Sirius/XM’s “Laughs USA” channel. He also has original songs on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and other platforms.

Brian Swinehart (Key & Peele, Conan) Comedian, actor and writer

The Comedian Host warming up with Zumba (THT)

THT: What brings you out here today?

BS: “I like what Easterseals does and I have done a couple of their event with Nic. It is really a great organization and I love to run myself, I really enjoy running, so it was the best of both worlds for me.”

THT: What was your time?

BS: “I think my times as about 23 minutes. Not bad. In 2015 I ran the LA Marathon and I finish it.”

THT: How do you prepare for the LA Marathon?

BS: “I actually run with the LA Leggers, they are a group in Santa Monica. They meet on Saturdays and they give you a schedule to follow. I ate an apple this morning, but the night before a Marathon I eat lots of carbs which is fun, so in the mornings I don’t eat much.”

THT: What are you doing these days?

BS: “I’m actually heading down to San Diego after this event to do a show down there. My writing partner and I just got one of our scripts made called “Burning Shadow” IT’s about a guy that sees his exact double, but his exact double is blind and homeless, it’s a drama. I have written several comedies, but the first drama script and it gets made.”

THT: Is the movie currently in the film festival arena?

Brian Swinehart the HaHa Cafe

BS: “Yes and the producers are working on that now. Julie Delpy a famous French actress is in it.

THT: How did you get into the business

BS: “Three days after I came into town, a good friend of my acting teach in Ohio, named Bernette, who lives in Pasadena just happen to have an attic room for rent. I still go and visit her and she is in her 80s now. She took me to the paramount studios and to show me around and showed me the ropes and I got on the show “Freaks and Geeks.” I figured I would stay and it is challenging and especially comedy. I believe we spend as much getting to the gigs as we make doing them.”

THT: Where do you see yourself in five years?

BS: “I would like to get one script a year made and I think me and writing partner, who is awesome, can get that accomplished. I would like to get a few parts in the scripts we write, not the main star, just in it. I want be a headlining stand-up comic around the country.”

“I did the Disability Film Challenge the past couple of years, and my last film was called “wheels” which is actually about my friend, who is in a wheelchair. What happened there was we were all hanging out and at the end of the day, I had to left him out of his wheelchair and put him into the car. That changed my perception on everything, because getting into a car is not something I ever thought about doing, your just do it without a thought and take it for granted. That fact that he has to have someone left him into the car every time he gets into a car, so I started out with the thought when they gave up the topic to write our script. It was a short film with Wheels being put into the car. I the Hollywood business, you get a little worried about things that matter to you, but they’re not really like that big. When you see stuff like Wheels having to have someone put him in a car, I wanted to capture that struggle he has to deal with on film. Most people will not ever have that experience. “

You can see this short on the easterseals YouTube page.

Brian Swinehart is an American actor, writer, stand-up comedian, and award winning producer. He was born and raised in a small country town in Ohio. Brian was raised by his parents Howard and Susan Swinehart. In 1999 his father Howard died. In 2000 with the blessing of his mother Brian left Ohio to go to California to pursue a career in acting. Brian had studied with some of the best acting teachers and acting schools in Hollywood. In 2009 his training was about to get even deeper when he got a job as the stand-in for Matthew Mcconaughey in the movie Lincoln Lawyer. On the set of Lincoln Lawyer Brian watched Matthew closely, read lines with him and threw a football with him at lunch. Brian worked on a Mccongnahey impression which many people consider to be the best Mcconaughey impression out there today. In 2012 Brian was in the movie about last night where he got to work with Steve Pink a director Brian greatly admires Swinehart was in several scenes playing Kevin Hart’s co-worker. In 2013 Brian booked a role in the TV Pilot Broken Dreams where he acted with academy award nominee Danny Aielo. Danny saw Brian at the audition and said “Who is that kid we need him on the project I want to work with him.”In 2014 after the passing of Paul Walker Brian was hired to be a stand-in and hand double for Paul’s character. Whose character name was coincidentally Brian. In 2015 Brian stood in for Josh Holloway on the TV show Colony and was in two national commercials one of which played during the Super Bowl. In 2016 Brian is scheduled to headline a national comedy tour and has a script called Rehabbers he co-wrote with Alex Nahon in production.


Photo Easterseals

It was a beautiful Saturday morning with many runners, walkers and sponsors giving away cool stuff and delicious protein bars, bananas, apples and plenty of bottled water.

Strides4disability 5k they’re off No 448 is Anthony Gallo who was the first runner to cross the finish line

They had a raffle drawing for a cruise or $6,000 cash, $3,000 and an Ipad Pro.

Strides4disability grand prize winner of $6000 with Nic Novicki and Mark Whitley, President and CEO (THT)

Strides for Disability honors diversity, promotes inclusion and shows what disability means today. This unifying and spirited event brings together a diverse group of people – with and without disabilities – to break down barriers and show what’s possible with the right access, opportunities and support.

Together, we celebrate the strides we’re taking to change the way the world defines and views disability while making positive, meaningful differences in people’s lives.

The Hollywood Times caught out with some of the runners and they caught threw breathe to talk with us.

Strides4disability Andrew Gallo 1st person to cross the 5k finish line (THT)

Anthony Gallo – 1st male winner of the 5k at 17:58.

THT: How many 5k’s do you run?

AG: “A great amount. I used to run them in college as my main event. The last time I race it was down at the San Diego Marathon and I placed 33rd. So this is my getting back for Boston, which is my first time. I train five to six days a week, 4 to 8 miles and a long run on Sundays of upwards to 15 miles and even more when it gets closer to the marathon.”

THT: What do you eat the night before a run?

AG: “Lots of carbs, I love pasta and eating that the night before a race because it gives you energy to burn off during the race. I flew in with my, who is actually in the race as well, and we actually came down here for a normal run and we saw that there was a 5k and said let’s do it.

Nic, Brian, Johnny and Anthony Gallo (THT)

We love hoping into stuff like this and especially when it is a charity event like this one. We love contributing and getting everyone hipped up.”

What a great way to train and raise money for Easterseals, thanks to Anthony and all the runners this past Saturday morning in Long Beach at the shoreline.

Strides4disability Joel 1st female to cross the 5k finish line (THT)

Joella Leskovits – 1st Female winner of the 5k 22:00

THT: How did you get involved in this race?

JL: “My company helped sponsor this event, James and Gable Insurance brokers.”

THT: Are you an avid runner?

JL: “Yes, I like to run marathons and I heard they were doing this and I was happy to be able to support them and get a 5k in as well.”

THT: So you have ran a marathon before?

JL “Yes, it was the San Diego marathon and I have done a couple of half marathons. I do want to run the Boston marathon one day.”

THT: How do you train for these 5k and 10k runs?

JL: “Doing these types of 5k helps me to prepare and running with my friend, who is running today as well. I left her because she did not want to run with me.

Evelyn and her dog Lucas crossing the finish line (THT)

Evelyn De Robles, dog Lucas and husband Issac.

1st dog to cross the finish line

THT: Are you a 5k running family?

EDR: “We did actually train from this one, I said let’s just go do it and I knew about it a while back. 3.1 miles and I think believe our times was 33 minutes.”

THT: Is this the first time Lucas has run with you?

EDR. “Yes this is the first time he has run. He did really well, he beat me actually, and he kept dragging me along, he was leading me on.”

THT: do you plan to do a half marathon?

EDR: “Maybe down the line, we run for fun and our health.”

THT: Do you run for charity events like this one?

EDR: “Yeah, we are actually sponsored through my company, Medical Specialties Managers (MSM), they do the medical billing for Easterseals, so this was a team event. My husband is actually a tri athlete and has many medals already.”


Walk sponsors are … CVS Pharmacy, Century 21, Amway, SpecialCare (Mass Mutual), Mark Bertrand, Fraternal Order of the Police, Medical Specialties Managers, Inc., T-Mobile, US Bank, Autism Learning Partners, Behavioral Health Works, CBS Entertainment Diversity, Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), Armanino LLP, James + Gable Insurance Brokers, Inc., Netsmart, Ultimate Software, Banana Boat, barkTHINS, Dasani, ENM Sales & Services, Faraon, Grocery Outlet, Journeys Martial Arts Academy, KRAVE, Los Angeles Chargers, Lyft, Mike Thompson RV Superstores, Minute Clinic, Nature’s Bakery, Pepsi, South County Photo Club, Tacos & Co., The Ms. Wheelchair California Foundation and TruMoo.

Behavorial Health Works (BHW) sponsor booth (THT)

About Easterseals Southern California

For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been an indispensable resource for individuals and families with developmental disabilities or other special needs. The services provided by Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) – in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties – make profound and positive differences in people’s lives every day, helping them address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals so that they can live, learn, work and play in our communities. With 2,300 employees, 60+ service sites and hundreds of community partnership locations, each year ESSC assists more than 10,000 people, providing adult/senior day services;

Easterseals Autism Therapy Services booth (THT)

autism therapy; child development/ early education; employment services, veteran employment support; independent living options; and more. At Easterseals, 87% of our income is spent on services. Join us in changing the way the world defines and views disabilities.

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