The second annual Run for Heroes takes place on Saturday, Sept.13 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Glenwood Landing Firehouse on Grove Street. The run has no registration fee, relying instead on the individual generosity of runners and others. The main objective of the run, which funds a scholarship at North Shore High School, is to honor the life and memory of FDNY Battalion Chief John Paolillo, a long-time resident of the school district who died in the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Started with donations in lieu of flowers, the scholarship fund made its first award in the amount of $500 in 2002. Last year's inaugural Run for Heroes, with no registration fee, generated $20,000, which was used to provide a $5000 scholarship in 2003 and a base to sustain the award. Recipients of the scholarship award are chosen based on their individuality, democratic awareness and community spirit, all attributes that Chief Paolillo exhibited every day of his life.
Run for Heroes has two courses, each with significant vertical climbs: Heroes Hill, a 1-1/4 mile run starting at 9 a.m., followed by John's Ladder, a 5K run at 9:15. The post-run celebration will feature refreshments provided by Waldbaum's of Old Brookville and Michelle Brown Baking, and raffle prizes donated by local merchants.
The runs have a short list of direct awards: the first fireman, first male and female 15 and under in each run, first male and female 16+ in the 5k. The emphasis of Run for Heroes is not on competition with others, but on honoring a hero and personally answering John's favorite question after athletic contests: "Did you give it your all?" New this year is the Moose Cup, inspired by John's departmental nickname - The Moose. The cup will go to the top finishing FDNY firehouse team, which must defend possession at next year's run.
At its August 19 board meeting, the Town of Oyster Bay issued a proclamation hereafter designating the second Saturday in September as Battalion Chief John Paolillo Day. The town has made special designations of two roads on run courses and installed signs to mark them. Ram's Hill, a road rising from Scudders Lane to Grove Street, in sight of the Glenwood Firehouse, will now also be known as Heroes Hill. The sign at the top of the hill can be seen from the firehouse. This naming honors all who have served and sacrificed and acknowledges our local firehouse. Two points on a half- mile hill of Glenwood Road have been marked as John's Ladder. The street where Chief Paolillo lived, Roslyn Drive, is now signed and known as Battalion Chief John Paolillo Way.
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto spoke warmly of Chief Paolillo at the ceremony, stating that while people often look to many places for heroes, sports or entertainment, for instance, they often need not look past their own neighborhood for the greatest heroes, as evidenced by John Paolillo.
The town's proclamation reads in part:
"On September 11, 2001 John Paolillo, a Battalion Chief in the Special Operations Command Center of the New York City Fire Department, died in the line of duty when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. John was a devoted family man, avid athlete, active participant in the North Shore community, and, mostly, a friend to all. Selflessly dedicated to helping others, John always asked himself and others: 'Did you give it your all?' To all who knew him, John Paolillo was a hero long before September 11."
For more information about the event and for a registration form, you can visit www.JohnPaolillo.com, or call Joseph Paolillo at (631) 899-9414.