Letter: YMCA executive director thanks the community for fundraising efforts

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We invite readers to contribute letters to the editor. Please include a name, address, and phone number and email us at JGoralski@ SouthingtonObserver.com. There is a limit of 350 words.

To the editor:

At 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, my 26-day, four-mile/$50 a day challenge for the Race4Chase concluded.

It started on June 1 with Chase’s mom, Rebecca Kowalski, Waterbury Executive Director Jim O’Rourke, and Waterbury Race4Chase Coordinator Susanne Navas. We reached out to the community to support our efforts so we can continue to offer the free six-week kids Race4Chase Kids Triathlon program in our respective communities.

And wow, was I ever blown away from the community response. More than 60 folks joined in on the challenge.  Here were some of the highlights:

Validation came early when School Superintendent of Southington Schools Tim Connellan enthusiastically came on board as my first challenge.

Continued validation as the legendary Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston and New York marathons said he would be honored to support our efforts.

Of course, past Southington and current Newtown Superintendent of Schools Joe Erardi said, “I’m in.”

Y member Geri Gribinas offered $5 per mile for four miles per day for 26 days, plus an $80 bonus for a special picture at the end of 26 days.

Community Running Partners, Sheffy, Mazzaccaro, DePaolo and DeNigris donated $1,000 and then offered to match anyone one who donated $500 or more. How cool is that?

Fifteen-year-old Matthew Kaplitas, who volunteered at the Race4Chase Triathlon in 2015, wanted to give back. So he joined the challenge.

School administrators and teachers who join the challenge because they know the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon is having a huge and positive impact on ‘their’ kids.

There were ‘a whole bunch’ of people who simply made donations and wished me good luck.

Gina LaPorte, Janet Scalise and over 20 runners from Progressive Pathways coordinated a ‘spirited’ run along the linear trail with a special moment at the Because of 26 Butterfly mural on the linear trail. Over $700 was raised by this group by taking over the roads in Southington. Way to go.

Nearly 20 runners took a celebratory and reflection run on Day 26 from YMCA Camp Sloper.

My early goals were to raise a couple thousand dollars to help self sustain our Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program. I am thrilled to report that we just went over the $7,000 mark. Is that awesome or what? And by the way, donations are still being accepted

While 24 days of the 26 days I was running solo, in reality I had scores of community running partners and the spirit of Chase on every run. This will be an experience that I’ll always treasure.

Big time thanks to the best community around. When called upon, you always react generously and positively. I encourage everyone to join us on Aug. 6 for the climatic Race4Chase Kids Triathlon at YMCA Camp Sloper. I can confidently say that experience will change your life.

Here’s a link to an inspiring video that will introduce you to Chase’s powerful story; www.youtu.be/f1y5PucfcO8?t=4

John Myers, Southington YMCA Executive Director

Running partnerRace4Chase last dayLinear Trail - June 25

Click to Enlarge (Photos submitted by the YMCA)

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