Seventy-five miles wasn’t too long to run for Eva Casale, who completed the distance last weekend to benefit the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The 51-year-old Glen Cove resident set out from a Manhasset-Lakeville firehouse on Saturday, and ran to numerous memorial sites in the New York City area until she reached the national monument in Manhattan.
“It went really well,” Casale said. “We visited a lot of memorials and first responder locations like firehouses and police stations, and it really stayed with the mission.”
The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department hosted a barbecue for Casale before kicking off the run, and she said she couldn’t thank the department enough for accommodating her.
The journey took 18 hours, and she was able to raise almost $4,000 for Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit support group for the children of those lost in the attacks, said the group’s executive director, Terry Sears.
Casale is an accomplished ultra-marathoner and distance runner with over 30 years of experience. Just this past April, she ran seven marathons over a seven-day period to benefit U.S. veterans.
“She never flinched. She’s amazing, and I think she really wanted to run for those children, the families and first responders,” Sears said.
Some of the sites she stopped at were the Dry Harbor Memorial Garden in Glendale, Postcards Memorial sculpture in Staten Island, and Engine 54 in Manhattan.
Casale had company on the run, in the form of a friend and fellow distance runner, Michael Roesch, who joined her the whole way on a hand-cycle. Because of multiple knee injuries, Roesch, of Shelter Island, pedaled with his hands from site to site.
Before last weekend, the longest distance he completed was a 30-mile race, he said. When he heard about Casale’s event, he asked if he could join her, and she happily accepted, Roesch said.
“She’s a machine, that’s why I like having her around me,” he said.
The two were also joined by relay runners from Team Eva at various points on their route.
Casale started taking on long distances at 18 when she ran the New York City marathon for the first time in 1983.
Since then, she has completed 40 ultra-marathons, which are any distance over 26.2 miles, including a 150-mile run from Manhattan to Montauk last year.
“Each year I do about one unique event where I do something for a charity and raise money and awareness,” Casale said.
Casale recalled one of the most emotional moments of the run, when she stopped at a memorial called “Angels’ Circle” in Staten Island to commemorate everyone who lost their lives because of the attack.
It was 3 a.m. when they reached the spot, but in light of the exhaustion, the significance of their journey was apparent, Casale said.
“It’s very emotional because it’s very personalized. There’s a picture of them and information about their lives,” she said. “At that time we were tired, but it really was the right time and right spot because it drove home what our mission was.”
Roesch said seeing tributes to the fallen first responders inspired him to not give up on the run, because they never quit while they did their duty.
“I thought about those we lost, and I thought this was the least we could do,” Casale said. “These people lost their lives, and 18 hours is not big for us to give.”
“As long as my body can move I will do stuff for other people,” Roesch said. “I don’t care if I have to drag myself around with my hands.”
Tuesday’s Children was formed soon after the attacks in 2001 to financially support affected families. Since then it has become a resource for emotional support by providing mentoring services to children of the victims and building a community through family engagement events. It has expanded by aiding families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, families of those killed in military service and international communities affected by terrorism.
Proceeds will go towards the general operation of Tuesday’s Children, Sears said, and during the 15th year anniversary the group will remain available for the victims’ families.
“We’re going to do what we always do, just be there for the families, whoever needs us,” she said.