2009-06-12 / Sports

Charity Inspires Fifth Annual Breezy Point Run

By Dylan Kitts

Five years ago then high school student Ryan Woerner tried to organize a triathlon in Breezy Point. As he mapped out the details, Woerner heard about a woman in the community, with whom he had run races, whose sister had passed away leaving her to take care of her nieces and nephews.

It was a "no brainer" for Woerner: his race would be a fundraiser. This year, on Saturday, June 27, Woerner's race will celebrate its fifth anniversary.

However, a triathlon proved unworkable as no location near the waterfront could hold the large number of bicycles necessary. But the race could be a biathlon - and as a biathlon the race has flourished.

In the first year, 75 participants helped to raise over $5,000 for the Fullen family. Over the next three years, the Breezy Point Biathlon has attracted an average of 150 participants while raising an average of $5,700 for various charitable causes, including the Fire Family Transport Unit and funds for high school scholarship athletes. The race begins with a 1.5 mile run along the ocean promenade in Breezy Point. Then the participants hop onto their bicycles in the field area adjacent to Reid Parking Lot South, and ride a three-mile loop along the state road that connects Breezy and Rockaway.

After completing the loop, participants drop off their bikes at the Reid Parking Lot and race back to the starting line. There are eight female and male age groups ranging from 10-12 to 60+.

Each winner receives a trophy and the three overall top racers earn sneakers courtesy of Saucony. Those who break the two current course records, Kevin D'emic's 18:47 and Trisha Davey's 21:55, will win $50 each. The celebration and awards ceremony is held after the race at the Breezy Point Sugar Bowl, where everyone can enjoy Ludwig's catering and UnderGround Sounds' DJ Grim. But "It is the community aspect [to the race] that I am most proud of," says Woerner. "A lot of people are involved in the event and have much to be proud of, making the event what it is.

"The reason the event is called the Breezy Point Biathlon is because it brings people from our community together to celebrate an individual from the community, while also rewarding people from the community for their efforts in the classroom." For the past two years, the race has been held in memoriam to Bill Mullaly, who passed away in 2006 after a battle with cancer. Mullaly was an active member in the Breezy Point community and a frequent volunteer at numerous charitable events.

An encounter between Mullaly and Woerner five years ago helped to inspire Woerner to create this event. While delivering for Meals on Wheels to Mullaly's neighbor, Woerner received a tossed bottle of water and words of encouragement from Mullaly: "Thanks for making this community a better place." "If anything," recalls Woerner, now a student at Ithaca University, "that one small encounter inspired me to be involved in the community."

If you are interested in participating in the event or in making a donation, email Woerner at rwoerne1@ithaca.edu.

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