Nearly 200 runners were pounding the pavement and sweating for a cause in the early morning hours of Sept. 15 at Hewlett Point Beach in Bay Park as Assemblyman Brian Curran hosted his third annual Run For Heroes 5K.
The race raised more than $30,000 for local veterans organizations, which will be split between the Lynbrook Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts, the East Rockaway VFW and the Malverne, Rockville Centre and Baldwin American Legion posts.
“The reason why we’re doing it is because these posts have a tough time generating funds and staying open,” said Curran, a Lynbrook resident, “and this goes a long way in keeping these posts open for those who served this country.”
Curran said that funds were generated by entry fees and sponsorships, and he thanked the many businesses that donated to the cause. It cost participants $25 to register before the day of the race and $35 on the day of, and $15 for participants who were 14 and under. Sponsorship costs ranged from $100 to $1,000.
Lynbrook resident Patrick Leahy clocked in with the best overall time at 21 minutes, 24 seconds, while Jayne Paskoff, also of Lynbrook, paced all women with a time of 25 minutes, 14 seconds.
Residents and veterans from Lynbrook, East Rockaway, Rockville Centre, Malverne, Oceanside and Baldwin participated in the event, which Curran said was open to all veterans posts in the 21st Assembly District.
Hank Speicher, the commander for the Lynbrook American Legion, expressed his gratitude toward Curran and the community. “He is truly a man that supports our veterans and we thank him,” Speicher said of Curran. “We also appreciate the community who came out to support our veterans by participating in the run and walk, and the many businesses and others that contributed to the cause.”
Patrick Iuliucci, the quartermaster for the East Rockaway VFW, said the post’s members appreciated all who participated and thanked Curran for raising awareness as veterans organizations strive to increase membership. “Our ranks are thinning and in order to keep our organizations flourishing, we need membership,” he said. “Membership is the key to our survival.”
This year’s race had the most participation in the event’s history, Curran said, noting that Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach was among those who completed the race. “He finished, and he finished without the use of an ambulance,” Curran said with a laugh.
Several veterans presented the country’s colors to start the event, and members of the Leathernecks MC New York Chapter led the runners in a cavalcade of motorcycles.
“It’s a great feeling every year,” Curran said of organizing the 5K. “For many of these posts, I’ve been told, it’s the largest fundraiser of the year.”