BY BARRY WARNER
Rockland Road Runners is an organization for runners in and around Rockland County. Its mission is to promote fitness, friendship, competition and charity events. Since its inception 26 years ago, more than $200,000 has been donated to local charities and thousands of participants have been drawn to its five annual races.
“ When you’re a race director, especially for a charity event, you depend on the kindness of others to get all the details right for your race. After all, you represent not just the charity you’re raising money for, but also the Rockland Road Runners. I need to know that when I need something done, and done right the first time, I can count on the person to do just that. That’s what makes Tom Gannon so special,” said David Goldwasser, director of the Marisa Fund and the 5-mile Turkey Trot. “No matter what’s asked of him, he steps up and gets it done. No fanfare, no ‘gee, look what I did’—just a quiet competence. That’s what makes Tom a unique person and amazing volunteer,”
“At the end of the Turkey Trot in Rockland Lake, on a cold Thanksgiving morning, most people are gone as soon as they finish their run, off to home, family and turkey…not Tom Gannon,” Goldwasser continued. “He’s there making sure every piece of equipment and every sign is put away and made safe. Days before the event, he’s there, setting up the finish line, organizing the course, problem solving the one million last-second details. He’s a hero to the kids with cancer that my charity supports, because without a person like Tom, our race becomes less professional and we lose runners and money for the research we need to find a cure for pediatric cancer. Tom gives up his time to make a difference! How many can say the same? We can all learn a little bit about service with humility from Tom Gannon.”
Running for charity can give purpose because real people are being helped and lives are being changed for the better. Runners are inclined to get up and get outside in the cold winter months, when they know they’re supporting a good cause. Charity runs help to raise public awareness and encourage donations, with thousands of participants wearing the charity’s logo. While some people will dedicate their running to one cause or charity, many runners will vary the causes they support.
“My interest in running began when I did wind sprints back in high school. I’ve been a runner for 30 years and have trained at Rockland Lake to run 43 marathons, including the Boston Marathon. I enjoy the camaraderie of friends during the times when I run, hike and ride a bicycle,” Tom Gannon told the Rockland County Times. “The five running events during the year that benefit the Marisa Fund, People to People and the Rockland County Police Hispanic Society Scholarship Fund bring out thousands of runners and wheelchair racers from and around Rockland County. I volunteer for charitable causes because when a job has to get done, I don’t complain, I get involved.”
The Marisa Fund helps kids with cancer and their families. A part of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation at the New York Medical Center in Valhalla, NY, the Marisa Fund provides money for research to generate less toxic treatment protocols for children with cancer. The funds aims to cure the patient and kill the cancer. Financial assistance is provided for families when insurance isn’t enough. Every dollar raised during the Rockland Road Runners’ Turkey Trot event goes to easing treatments, easing financial hardship and finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
For additional information about contributing to the Marisa Fund and/or registering for future races, go to www.rocklandroadrunners.org
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