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Turkey Trot proceeds benefit Marisa Fund, People to People, Scholarship Fund

By: Jamie Kempton

The Rockland Road Runners raised $80,000 for local charities during the 25th annual Thanksgiving Day 5-Mile Turkey Trot, held last Nov. 24 at Rockland Lake State Park. The donations were presented at the running club’s Jan. 11 meeting at Prohibition River in Nyack.

A total of $64,000 was donated to the Marisa Fund, which raises money for research, treatment and care of pediatric cancer patients. The charity seeks to improve the chances of survival for children with cancer undergoing blood and bone marrow transplants, and to reduce the risks of their associated therapies. Turkey Trot race director David Goldwasser founded the Marisa Fund in memory of his daughter, Marissa Goldwasser, a former track runner at Clarkstown North High School who died of Hodgkins lymphoma in 2003, at age 20.

Proceeds from the race were also distributed to six other charities: $7,000 to People to People, Rockland’s largest food pantry, providing food and other services to families and seniors in need; $5,000 to the Rockland County Police Hispanic Society; $3,000 to the Rockland Road Runners Scholarship Fund; and $500 each to the Congers/Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps, the Salvation Army/Rockland County Corps, and the Blue Knights law enforcement motorcycle club. Goldwasser personally contributed to the latter three causes.

“With so many families joining us on Thanksgiving morning each year, it seems only appropriate that we give collective thanks for all we have by giving to charities and groups that make a difference in people’s lives,” Goldwasser said. “Hopefully, we are closer to a cure for pediatric cancer through these efforts as well as fighting hunger and aiding students to continue their education in college.”

The Turkey Trot is the largest race in Rockland County; the 2016 event drew more than 3,500 registered participants from 27 states, and 3,025 official finishers. The race also honored Leonard “Lenny” Sullivan, a former 30-year member of the Tappan Fire Department and lifelong Tappan resident who passed away during the 2015 race.

In addition to the donations, the club’s meeting was also highlighted by the presentation of its annual awards. Tony Maulucci, club president from 1992 to 1997, won the Don Cordisco Award for lifetime achievement, the organization’s highest honor. Longtime RRR member Tom Gannon earned the Volunteer of the Year award for both the club and the Turkey Trot. Mike Seidenfrau, race director of the Women’s Distance Festival 5K, won the George Wodicka Inspiration Award. The 2016 RRR Grand Prix series winners were: open men, Clayton Combe; open women, Claire Eckert; masters men, Kenji Fukaki; masters women, Ayako Yamakazi; seniors men, Narcis Aron; seniors women, Patti Kutner Fiume.

Rockland Road Runners is the county’s largest running organization with 450 members. In 2016 the club raised more than $115,000 for local charities.

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Photos by Voytek