Third Annual Willie McCabe Memorial Run raises funds, awareness for homeless vets

Raising awareness and funds for military veterans through a growing tradition.

The Third Annual Willie McCabe Memorial Run, held on Saturday, November 18 at Owl’s Head Park, once again featured local runners who wanted to run to benefit homeless veterans.

The run was founded by Liam McCabe in honor of his father Willie, a veteran who died homeless in Bay Ridge over 10 years ago.

“The motivation was to bring awareness to homeless veterans,” McCabe said. “It’s a sad state when our city and our country have people that serve it and are willing to give up everything and we can’t come together to figure out a solution to this. We owe it to our veterans. They were willing to sacrifice everything for us and in some cases, they have fallen on hard times, have post traumatic stress disorder. I think that’s a big part of it and it’s a big reason why it’s difficult for a lot of them to ask for help.”

This year’s event was colder than past years, but still a success.

“It was wonderful and a nice turnout,” McCabe said. “It was a bit chillier compared to last year but it was good.”

He said his work with veterans motivates him to keep the tradition going strong. “Working for two congressmen, I’ve worked with a lot of veterans,” McCabe explained. “We work with the VA and in depth with Fort Hamilton Army Base. I have a lot of veterans in my family so I know veterans pretty well. Some of my best friends served in Iraq. I know that they’re very strong-willed, patriotic people so it’s hard for them to admit they may need some help or assistance. They’re used to taking initiative.”

He also discussed the sacrifices and hardships his father faced.

“My dad was living on the train tracks because he was going to make his own way,” McCabe said. “As I spend more time in public service and civics, I’ve learned more about the programs that are available and I wish my dad had known about them while he was suffering. I wish it was a little more okay to talk about. I was a little ashamed and my father was too about him being homeless. We just want to bring awareness to it and take away the stigma.”

Every year, the run raises money for a different organization. This year, it raised money for Charities for Charities. “The organization is run by Jane Da Costa and she is a veteran herself who deals with homeless veterans and she does a lot of fieldwork to help them at the street level with a bunch of other veterans,” McCabe said. “That inspired me to want to work with her this year. We want to spread the word and pick an organization that is going to reach veterans.”

According to McCabe, the run consisted of a loop and a half through Owl’s Head Park followed by a loop on the bike path to the first overpass and ended on top of Lookout Hill.

The continued support meant a lot to him.

“It means so much that the community rallies to this cause and that it grows every year,” McCabe said. “It’s starting to become its own thing and that means a lot because people are beginning to understand more about the issue and be comfortable contributing to this race and the organizations that benefit from it. It means a lot to me personally.”

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