By Danielle Lipiec // Photo by Lauren Chenault
The Rose DiGangi Foundation held its 13th annual Run for Rose in Ocean Bay Park, as always, on Sunday, Aug. 11. With fair weather, walkers and runners alike met at the finish line to take on the course for a good cause.
The 5K Run for Rose began in honor of Rose DiGangi, who passed away from brain cancer in 2007. Her family created the not-for-profit Rose Digangi Foundation to assist those affected by brain cancer in minimizing financial burdens. Their mission is “to provide patients and their families with the flexibility to focus on crucial medical care as well as their overall wellness.” The foundation provides funding for household expenses and ancillary medical costs, and additionally partners with other organizations to help fund brain tumor research.
“Her illness was secondary to everything else,” said Anthony DiGangi, son of Rose and president of the Rose DiGangi Foundation, in a past interview. “She raised us to always put others first, and organizing the run each year is just one way for us to continue her legacy.”
The money the foundation raises is in part from runner registration and donations in affiliation with Run for Rose. Several Long Island based sponsors aided in putting the event together, and dedicated volunteers rallied to make sure things ran smoothly. Registration ended 15 minutes before the race began to ensure all those who wanted to participate had the chance.
Some runners took it upon themselves to join the race in honor of loved ones of their own. The O’Sullivan family, who rallied together around 30 friends and family members, sported matching green shirts with the slogan “Do It for Dinger” in remembrance of Dennis “Dinger” O’Sullivan, who died at the age of 55 from brain cancer two years ago.
“We all get together to remember him, we get a house out here for the weekend and come down for the race,” said Bryan O’Sullivan, one of Dennis’ seven siblings.
On the competitive end, 29-year-old Luke McCambley and 32-year-old Meredith Kennedy were the top runners for their gender class. McCambley took first place with a clock time of 17 minutes and 25.3 seconds, and Kennedy in fifth overall with a clock time of 19 minutes and 21.5 seconds.
McCambley, who hails from Far Rockaway, was spending the weekend staying with friends in Point O’Woods, and running through their team. A runner since graduating college at the School of Visual Arts, McCambley continues running on his own, and crafting runner- centered comics for his Instagram page, @theorangerunner.
Despite his first place triumph, McCambley commended his team member Jay Sullivan, who came in second.
“He’s training for Chicago and is in the middle of a 100-mile week, he ran 25 miles yesterday, so the fact that he came in second place is a lot more impressive considering I took a rest day yesterday,” McCambley said.
Kennedy, who comes from New York City and runs with the Central Park Track Club, expressed gratitude for her first top female placement in her third time participating in the Run for Rose.
“It’s a beautiful day, and it’s so great having the support of everyone. There’s people along every single street cheering you on, and I like that it’s a fun race, but still competitive,” she said. “I came in first place with another race before, but I’ve never broken a tape, so that was fun.”
In her running career spanning over 10 years, Kennedy usually finds herself doing marathons and half marathons. “It’s fun to shake it up with some 5Ks every once in a while, especially this one,” she said.
The Run for Rose concluded its 13th annual race with T-shirts, raffles, and refreshments for runners, friends and community members.
“The community has been amazing and without them this event is not possible,” said DiGangi. “Everyone looks forward to and helps us put on the event. It truly has become a weekend that everyone looks forward to.”
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