Bay Ridge once again raced to raise both awareness and funds for autism.
For the 10th year, Harbor Fitness held its annual 5K Run and Walk through the Fort Hamilton Army Base. Money raised went to the HeartShare School and Preschools for children with special needs and autism.
The 2017 event, held on Sunday, June 11, included something for everyone, such as a block party, pee wee run, Zumba warm-up, the 5k walk/run, and raffles.
“This year was yet another success,” said Harbor’s Group Fitness Manager Jodi Heywood. “We had a lot of people come out for the event and do the block party, kids’ activities, and pee wee run. We had a few hundred people there with everything which is great. It’s grown every year.”
Heywood also discussed the significance of HeartShare and its work. “We have partnered with them and raised money for them because we believe in what they do,” she explained. “Given the issue of autism and the program they have for kids, we believe they are perfect recipients of our fundraising. They’re very community-based and help kids in our community so it’s a good connection.”
“This is a critical time for HeartShare’s children’s schools, which do not necessarily receive the financial resources needed from the state,” said HeartShare President and CEO Bill Guarinello in a statement. “We are grateful to our community partners, like Harbor Fitness, who are unwavering supporters and firmly believe in the power and positive effects of education for New York’s most vulnerable children.”
This year’s run memorialized Arthur Mondella Jr., who was an avid fan of Harbor Fitness before he died. Mondella was a superintendent with the Department of Sanitation for 17 years. The proceeds from the raffle sales were donated to the National Kidney Foundation in his memory.
The organizers were also pleased with the funds raised for the noble cause. “The final numbers are still coming in, but we’ve raised at least what we’ve raised in past years, if not more, so far,” said Heywood.
There were also a couple of differences from past events, such as moving it from April to June. “We wanted to try it in June because the weather is iffy in April. It definitely helped increase the number too,” she said. In addition, she pointed out, “We always run through the Fort Hamilton Army Base, but this year they took a more active role in partnering with us and were super helpful and worked with us to coordinate and get the event going.”
Thirty-year-old Alex Plasencia, 40-year-old David Mendelsohn and 31-year-old Stephen Wo were the overall winners of the 5K. Each of them finished in 18 minutes or less.
Thirty two-year-old Rachel Marks, 43-year-old Emelyn Ebeyer, and 22-year-old Elizabeth Mattock were the top female runners.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden were also in attendance.
“The Harbor Fitness ‘Race for Autism’ is another great neighborhood tradition that I am proud to support each year,” said Gentile. “This 5K is especially unique because it allows runners to race through the historic Fort Hamilton Army Base all to benefit the children of the HeartShare Schools.”
“It is truly humbling to see the success of the Heart Share School for Autism serving the needs of the students of our community, a program which Senator Golden, HeartShare staff and I helped to get off the ground,” said John Quaglione, a spokesperson for Golden. “The race on Sunday shows the great strength that this neighborhood has, and prides itself on, in coming together to help others.”