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Garden City Shows Support for Cancer Research at First Annual Race Event

Garden City showed its support for continued cancer research this past weekend despite damp weather at the first annual Garden City for a Cure. The event held at Garden City High School, consisted of two races, a 5K race and 1.5-mile untimed run, and drew more than 2,000 residents from Garden City and surrounding towns.

Organized by race director Kerry Calvert, an elementary school teacher and member of the Garden City Teachers’ Association, Garden City for a Cure raised almost $20,000 for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Rockville Centre. This specific center, whose past patients include New Jersey Congressman Bob Franks and New York Yankees trainer Gene Monahan, is dedicated to both cancer research and outpatient cancer care. However, Calvert has a personal connection to the cancer center. “My father went to Sloan-Kettering,” said Calvert. “I lost him four years ago.”

Like Calvert, many present participated in the races for family members who died or are currently battling cancer. Patti McCarton, a travel agent and breast cancer survivor from New Hyde Park, walked in memory of her friend, Claire Mahoney, who died last year from cancer. “Our family is altogether in honor of our dearest friend,” said McCarton.

Next to the finish line, race participants left written messages on a memorial wall. Some wrote in memory of those who died, while others left messages of encouragement for those currently battling cancer. Michael Donohue, 55, a Long Island Rail Road conductor, and his son, Christopher, 9, wrote down their finish time in commemoration of their first family race for a cause. “We wanted to break 15 minutes,” Michael said. “But we finished in 11 minutes and 30 seconds.”

Bringing families together for a cause was one of Calvert’s main intentions for the event. Raffles and activities organized by local schools catered to families with children of all ages.

One such activity was Kites for a Cure, which specifically raises money for an organization called Uniting Against Lung Cancer. The organization funds research to find a cure for lung cancer. Participants decorated kites and flew them on the high school’s track, adjacent to the race’s finish line.

“Part of the appeal to this activity, especially to lung cancer, is that you cannot participate in a walk or run,” said Maureen Constantino, 31, the communications manager for Uniting Against Lung Cancer. “The event is very symbolic. Send a kite in the air to someone who has died or is battling lung cancer.”

The success of the event despite early morning drizzles and a general overcast left volunteers and participants eager for next year’s Garden City for a Cure. “We’re hoping that this is the first of future races,” said Millie Joyce, 42, an elementary school teacher and event volunteer from the Garden City Teachers’ Association. “We’re happy that we had a good turnout.”