Written by Christopher Gavin Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:00
With the return of warmer weather comes the return of runners to the streets, especially those a part of Katie’s Run, an annual 5K race in New Hyde Park.
Rain or shine, the June 22 event, now in its fifth year, will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island on behalf of The Katie McBride Foundation, a nonprofit organization aiming to promote and fundraise for the house. Festivities besides the timed race include a two-mile walk as well as a post-race celebration in New Hyde Park Memorial Park, which includes a free barbeque, an awards ceremony, family entertainment and a Children’s Fun Run with a visit from Ronald McDonald.
But of course the day is about more than merely running and burgers. On her 11th birthday in June 2007, Katie McBride was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma after waking up one morning with a scratchy voice just days before.
“Once [the doctor] looked down her throat I knew it was going to be trouble just based on the way his face looked,” Katie’s father, Michael, said.
By September, after months of chemotherapy, Katie was in remission and happy to be back at school. However, this period was short lived when the disease entered her bone marrow three weeks later. Despite a transplant from her older brother Mike, Katie passed away on March 1, 2008.
The foundation, founded by Michael Sr. and his wife, Jeanne, was formed in 2010 out of McBride’s fear of Katie becoming forgotten.
“Certainly not within our family and immediate friends, but I kind of got a little bit of an anxiety attack and it was like ‘This little girl is just going to fade, her memory is just going to fade and everybody is just going to forget her,’” he said. “That’s just the society we live in.”
Although the organization now also gives academic scholarships to Chaminade and Islip High School grads, the Ronald McDonald House was chosen as the prime beneficiary.
“[Jeanne] lived in the hospital room with Katie,” McBride said. “The Ronald McDonald House afforded her the ability to go over and shower in the morning and grab a meal here and there.”
Since 2010, the foundation has been able to donate about $54,000 in proceeds from the race to the McDonald House. The charity also has donated an additional $40,000 to support families facing challenges similar to those of the McBrides. Last year, the 5K and community walk had an estimated 800 finishers, according to McBride.
Tom Biggers, the race director and president of the New York Police Department Running Club, said in the past the neighborhood has helped to make his job easier.
“I manage quite a few races and this is by far the number one race in both the volunteer, community participation,” said Biggers, who has directed the race for the last five years. “Our volunteer staff [is] the same people every year, doing the same job. For me it’s an easy race to direct because we have such great community support.
Festivities begin on June 20 at the New Hyde Park Fire Department on Jericho Turnpike, at the pasta and beer party where runners pick up their packets. The race then starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 22 at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home on Lakeville Road and ends at the New
Hyde Park Memorial Park on Albert Street and Lincoln Avenue.
With fingers crossed for good weather, McBride said the Children’s Fun Run is usually his favorite part of the day.
“Just the smiles and the joy on the faces of the kids,” he said, “that’s exactly what I think Katie would have appreciated the most.”