Written by Christopher Gavin Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:00
The New Hyde Park-Mineola Runners Club is going the distance once again this year by hosting its annual 8K race. Proceeds from the June 1 rain or shine event will benefit wounded veterans in Nassau County and Boy and Girl Scout troops from the area.
Festivities begin at 8 a.m. and planned activities for the day include a quarter-mile fun run for kids and a two-mile community walk, in addition to the 8K race, which starts and ends at Denton Avenue Elementary School in New Hyde Park. The 37-year-old competition is also a part of the USA Track and Field Long Island Division and is recognized as an 8K Grande Prix Championship. Last year, the club saw between 400 and 500 participants, a figure race director and Club President Harold Axelrod said he hopes to match this weekend.
“So we have something for everyone,” he stated.
For members of the club, it seems as if the priority of serving the neighborhood may even come before promoting fitness and exercise. Over the last three years, the event has raised $16,000 for the Nassau County Firefighters for its Operation Wounded Warrior, according to Axelrod. The organization is separate from the national Wounded Warrior Project campaign, he said, which means local soldiers will directly benefit.
“We’re hoping to get as many people as we can because the more people that come in, the more we can give back,” Axelrod said.
The Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program, which helps challenged athletes, according to its website, also participates free of the $25 race day fee. Boy and Girl Scout troops provide volunteers, helping Scouts meet service requirements, and receive a donation. The club also welcomes local high school track teams and military personnel to race as well as anyone who wants to lend a hand.
“Anybody who is interested, we try and bring them into the program in a way that works for everybody because it’s a community event,” race coordinator Stephen Cipot said. “We are all volunteers.”
The club has certainly been growing too, according to Cipot. Evidence of this can be found in the organization’s name change this year by adding “Mineola” to its current title to account for the increased support of more than 12 sponsors in the greater New Hyde Park area and the enrollment of new members from around Mineola, which Cipot said makes up 25 to 40 percent of the group.
“It’s really a volunteer community service and to me those are the best types of services because it’s not part of a job, it’s outside your job, and it’s literally for your community,” Cipot said. “It’s for your local community and it’s for your Long Island community.”