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Running for his health, for fun and to help others

Bill Diehl Jr. figures he’s run about 200 road races during the last half century. That doesn’t count his track days at Holy Family Elementary School or cross-country career at Bishop Timon High in his native South Buffalo.

“Just on my own – I’ll be 69 in a couple weeks – I still run 3 miles a day, at least, for my own enjoyment,” said Diehl, a retired special education teacher.

Most of his sanctioned runs have been 5Ks or 10Ks, though Diehl ran the Buffalo Marathon in 1984 and organized Corporate Challenge teams when he worked with the state Developmental Center in West Seneca and Department of Corrections.

But never until last year has he run a race as Batman. That’s what the Superhero Race and Wellness Walk – which Diehl called “a race for another good cause” – can do for someone.

“We want people to have fun. It’s all part of breaking down the stigma,” said Kenneth Houseknecht, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Erie County, which will host the race next weekend with Compeer Greater Buffalo mental health services. The race on Delaware Park’s ring road starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at St. George Orthodox Church. Register at

Proceeds benefit Compeer and the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) program. Diehl has volunteered with the program the last four years.

Q. How does CASA work?

The judge hearing a family court or drug court case will assign a CASA worker when he or she feels a child needs a little extra support than might be coming from some of the government agencies involved, like Social Services, the attorneys and legal advocates for the children. A lot of these big agencies represented in the court might have 20 to 50 cases, where we carry one or two.

Q. What about the decision to become a CASA volunteer?

If you’re blessed with your health when you’re retired, who wants to sit around the house and vegetate? There are still areas to make contributions and get involved with the needs of your fellow citizens.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Learn more about CASA at