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Racing For Wounded Warriors

Running club once again raises fund for veterans organization 

When the New Hyde Park 8K kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 2, it will be the 36th time the starter’s gun has gone off for this annual event. And, as in the past, New Hyde Park Runners race organizers will take money raised and donate it to a local charity. For the third year running, the lucky organization will be Nassau County Fire Fighters Operation Wounded Warrior. It’s a cause that club president Harold Axelrod and his members have grown very close to, having raised more than $5,000 the past two years.  

 

“Operation Wounded Warrior does a phenomenal job. They help a lot of the Nassau veterans who are at the Northport Veterans Hospital or down south at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. That’s why we’ve basically adopted [this organization] as our cause. The veterans give so much back to us,” Axelrod pointed out. “I went to Yankee Stadium two weeks ago and one of the guys came back having lost both his legs below the knees. He received his Purple Heart and he didn’t come out on crutches or in a wheelchair. He walked out on the stumps of his legs, which to me is unbelievable.”

 

Over the years, the New Hyde Park 8K race has become a huge community event that attracts between 375 to 400 participants, and is also a magnet for community business sponsorship. Given the increasingly expensive costs that come with staging such a large event, (T-shirts, food, private vendor tracking system), it’s this kind of help that Axelrod knows organizers can’t afford to take for granted. 

 

“Races are very expensive to put on. We run what is called a ‘chip-timed race,’ so we have little chips embedded into the running numbers and that is what automatically registers your time once you cross the finish line. Because of all the help [from]our sponsors and race participants, we [can afford the technology and] we’re able to give out nice prizes,” he said. “[Maspeth Federal Savings was] one of our first sponsors and continue to be. [Other sponsors include] Cartridge World, Air Ideal, Willis Hobbies, Mineola Bicycle Shop, Bagel Express and Nassau Sports Physical Therapy. All of our sponsors are listed and it’s their support and help that allows us to do this race.” 

 

As one of the oldest running clubs on Long Island, the New Hyde Park Runners Club has always embraced giving back to the community. The Mary Brennan Inn soup kitchen is a constant recipient of donated canned goods, along with food left over from runs (bananas, fruit, water, bagels). Other organizations/individuals that have benefited from the largesse of the running club are students who have received scholarships, the local Boy Scout troop and the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, which received between $15,000 to $18,000 during the five or six years it was a chosen charity. 

 

For those that might not be up to running this nearly 5-mile race, that starts and ends at the Denton Avenue School, there are other options. There is a 2-mile fitness walk that begins at 8:35 a.m. and a free ¼ Mile Children’s Run and Fitness Walk, in which all finishers will be awarded ribbons. As for the main event, it will be held, rain or shine, with special awards given to teams, the first male and female New Hyde Park residents to finish and wheelchair and physically challenged participants. All of this adds up to a great communal experience that Axelrod hopes more of his fellow residents will take advantage of, regardless of their athletic abilities. 

 

“So, if you can’t run 4.7 miles, who cares? I think the more important thing is to come out and participate in the race,” he said. “The more people who come out means the more we can help the community; that to me is more important because the New Hyde Park Running Club is more than just runners. We have people who walk that are not runners at all. So we try to reach out. If you can’t run, come and join us for a walk.”

 

For more information, please visit www.newhydeparkrunners.com