Double the turnout, donations for Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run

Bay Ridge ran for a good cause.

Owl’s Head Park’s Lookout Hill was the site for the second annual Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run. The day serves as both a fundraiser for homeless veterans and a tribute to the late Willie McCabe, a homeless veteran who died of hypothermia in 2005.

According to his son, organizer, and President of the Brooklyn South Conservative Club Liam McCabe, the run, held on Sunday, November 13, was a huge success. “It was a tremendous success,” he said. “We basically doubled our attendance that we had last year and doubled the donations. Last year, we raised $1,000. This time, it’s over $1,500 and there is money we are still collecting.”

Although the annual event continues to grow, it’s bittersweet for McCabe.

“It’s great doing this positive thing and raise awareness, but unfortunately I wish we didn’t have to raise money for veterans,” he said. “It shouldn’t be in the same sentence.”

The day is also a very personal one for McCabe, who remembers his father.

“My dad was a 101st Airborne,” he said. “He lived in Bay Ridge and fell into homelessness in the late 90s and early 2000s. He went to different parks. He lived in the train yard for many years on 65th street. And he would go to shelters end up back to train yards.

“It was very sad, so I decided to do something and set up a memorial and raise the issue,” he added.

The silver lining for organizers has been the community involvement. “It’s overwhelming and what I am realizing is I’m amazed at people that volunteered,” McCabe explained. “There were many more volunteers to facilitate the race. Even people that didn’t want to run wanted to be involved.”

The foundation also goes beyond the race. “It’s more than raising money,” he said. “It’s a yearlong sort of work we are engaged in.”

Although the run just ended, McCabe and company are already focused on next year. “The great thing is that it brings out veterans, homeless advocates and runners who just want to race,” he said. “It’s has taken a life of its own. Not many races take place at Owl’s Head.”

The race is already being planned for 2017 and, according to McCabe, may take place earlier in the year.

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