A 5k run/walkathon benefit was held by (SJC) and The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation on Sunday.
Close to 300 runners raced from the college and around the Village of Patchogue.
SJC and its Alumni Association were participating to benefit The Thomas J. Wendt Scholarship. It was named after a former student leader and school employee who was devoted to volunteerism and philanthropic causes. After Wendt's (Class of '88) untimely passing in 2004, SJC established a memorial scholarship to benefit students who are active in college life and community service.
The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, the other beneficiary of the event, was also founded in 2004. It was begun by SJC alum Matthew J. Barbis (Class of '94) to bring something positive out of the tragic abduction and murder of his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, in Sarasota, Florida in 2004.
The foundation's main objective is to prevent child abductions in the US by informing and empowering the nation's youth, and arming them with the necessary skills to avoid abduction. The organization's Stranger Safety Awareness Program is presented to elementary-aged children free of charge.
"The Alumni Association adopted us as their charity, so we work hand in hand to do the things that we want to do," said Barbis.
Barbis and Matthew Colson (Class of '02), director of alumni relations at SJC, were at the helm of this joint endeavor.
"It's wonderful. This event is designed intentionally to promote the small businesses of Patchogue through sponsorships. With the collective response from the Patchogue community and neighboring businesses we're able to have a successful event every year," said Colson.
Several raffle prizes were donated by local businesses such as , the and .
Before the 10 a.m. ribbon cutting by President of SJC Sister Elizabeth Hill marking the start of the race, there was a festive atmosphere filling the SJC gymnasium.
The SJC Eagles mascot, the GEICO Gecko and Quacker Jack from The Long Island Ducks were on hand, dancing and keeping children delighted and participants motivated.
The SJC Dance Team pumped the crowd up further with a performance displaying their impressive choreography.
Of the runners, Debbie Hampton took part in the walk with her 14-month-old granddaughter, Gabriella, in tow. She said she was participating to help raise awareness of child abduction.
"We need to bring that out to everyone, and get that nationwide as well. It all benefits these very young children right here," said Hampton, motioning to Gabriella.
Check the for highlights from the race.