By Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY On Sunday morning, the Liberty chapter of Students Against Dangerous Decisions (SADD) held its second annual Spring Fling 5K race to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation.
A total of 110 runners registering for the event.
Last year, Katie Heinle, then a junior at Liberty High School, organized the first Spring Fling 5K. The race raising more than $2,400 for anti-bullying programs.
This year it was Liberty junior Josh Lieberman who organized the run and chose the Make a Wish Foundation as the event’s benefactor.
“My cousin, who is only 6 years-old, has a disability and was recently granted a wish from the foundation, so I decided to get involved,” Lieberman said. “I just wanted to get involved.”
New York State Assemblywoman, Aileen Gunther, was at the race to see the runners off, even reading a short proclamation from the State Assembly recognizing the event.
“This is wonderful, the way these kids are able to bring the community together for such a great cause,” Gunther said. “It’s just great to see this.”
The top overall runner, Tom Stratton of Parksville, crossed the finish line first with a time of 18 minutes, 19.8 seconds. Stratton’s time was just a little slower than the winning time in last year’s inaugural race.
Coming in second in the men’s division was Andy Hazelnis of Loch Sheldrake with a time of 18:49.3. The third place finisher, 52-year-old Richard White of New York City, outpaced many runners more than half his age and posted a time of 19:54.6.
“I just come out here for the weekends and heard about the race on the race online,” White said. “I said, ‘Hey, it’s for a great cause so why not.’”
In the women’s division, Beret Nearing of Cochecton finished in first place by crossing the line in 25:10.7.
Placing second among the ladies was Jennifer Beasley of Kiamesha Lake, who ran the 5K course with her pooch Molly-Capri. Beasley finished with a time of 26:40.3
“I decided to dedicate all of my races to my sister Tara,” said Beasley, who explained that Tara passed away back in December due to a rare form of Leukemia.
Ashlea Prouty of Callicoon ran the course in 26:55.5 to earn third place in the women’s division.
Many others, including Liberty High School Principal Jack Strassman and 77 years young Mary Heinle, finished the 3.107-mile race and helped raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Strassman finished 53rd with a time of 31:34.1, while Heinle placed 68th in 39:58.
“It’s just great that these kids were able to put this all together,” said Jody Lieberman of Liberty, who, along with Kim Heinle and several other people, helped make it all happen Sunday.
“I'm so impressed by these kids,” Lieberman said.
The local Liberty businesses and organizations that helped sponsor the race were: Cracolici’s on the Green, Katelyn’s Kreations, Law Offices of Martin Hersh, Esq., Liberty Fitness Center, Liberty Rotary Club, The Shoe Box and Yiasou Cafe.
Race results were kept by Dennis Toscano along with Fast Finishes of Lackawaxen, Pa.
For more information on the Make a Wish Foundation and its initiatives, go to www.wish.org or call (914) 478-9474.