The New Hyde Park community came together Sunday morning for the fifth annual Katie’s Run, a 5K run and two-mile walk to honor the memory of a young cancer victim and raise funds to support the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island.
Approximately 700 participants turned out for the event created to memorialize Katie McBride, who succumbed to an aggressive form of childhood cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma at age 11.
For eight-and-a-half months, Michael and Jeanne McBride watched their daughter, Katie, fight, staying near her in the Ronald McDonald House. Katie lost her battle in 2008, but McBride said he was determined to see her memory live on.
“We thought people were going to forget about her, that her memory was going to fade,” McBride said. “It’s not now. Her face is all over the place.”
Racers gathered on a cool, overcast morning at Lakeville Road and started the course running under a large American flag hoisted above the road by the New Hyde Park Volunteer Fire Department. New Hyde Park Memorial Park had a festival-like atmosphere at the finish line. Music played in the background, volunteer firefighters cooked on the grill, frisbees were thrown, and there was an inflated bounce house for children.
McBride, director of the New Hyde Park Funeral Home, created the Katie McBride Foundation in 2010.
Through the 5K run and two-mile walk, the foundation has donated more than $54,100 to the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island. The foundation has also given more than $40,000 to families struggling with a childhood illness in the Long Island community.
During the ceremonies following the race in Memorial Park, Matt Campo, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, announced that a new fitness center named in honor of Katie will open Oct. 9 at Cohen’s Children Medical Center next door to the Ronald McDonald House. Campo said this center was made possible through donations from the foundation that bears her name.
McBride said aiding other families in the same situation helps his family cope with the loss.
“This helps us get through our day. Things like this and being able to write a check to a family going through the same thing gets us through our day,” McBride said.
The overall winner for the third year in a row was Ryan McDermott, with a time of 16 minutes and 58 seconds. Jennifer Comiskey was the first woman to finish at 20 minutes and 9 seconds.
Around 50 youngsters got to race in the Ronald McDonald Fun Run. Each child received a blue and white medal with the Katie’s Run logo.
McBride said the event was made possible by the aid of the New Hyde Park Volunteer Fire Department, food donated from the Sakowich family who run The Inn At New Hyde Park, and chairs and tables donated from Hall’s Carpet.
Seeing groups and organizations from the community unite for a cause is why Village of New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro said he hopes the event continues to grow.
“That’s what it’s all about is giving,” Lofaro said. “That’s the call of the community, the generosity is seen at this event. It’s much more than just a run.”
For Katie’s Run and The Katie McBride Foundation, the event reaches beyond New Hyde Park. Participants from towns and villages all across the New York area made up this year’s race field, including the Fordham University men’s basketball team from the Bronx.
This was Fordham senior shooting guard Bryan Smith’s third year attending Katie’s Run. He said he came to support “Mikey,” Katie’s brother, who was a manager of Fordham’s basketball team when he attended the school.
Smith recalled a friend who fought and overcame cancer, and he said, “I know she had a hard time in her childhood. I know how hard it is for a family to go through this.”
From his friend, Smith said. he learned that “anything can happen, so always stay positive.”
Before the Katie McBride Foundation awarded runners, five students from local high schools won $1,000 scholarships for college. Four of the students graduated from East Islip High School, where Katie would have graduated this year, McBride said. One student graduated from Chaminade High School.
Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), described seeing his community come together for such a cause as “incredible.”
To children suffering from illness, he said, “There’s always hope, and the community will be behind you 100 percent. Your family, obviously, and the community will help to lift you up to get you through.”