On Staten Island, Marathoners-turned-Volunteers

Home Brooklyn Life On Staten Island, Marathoners-turned-Volunteers
Kelley Rehkugler, 25, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Farrell Denby, 25, from the Financial District, Manhattan.  The two marathoners packed cheese and crackers, cereal, granola bars and trail mix into their backpacks.

Forgoing their usual super-lightweight gear, the marathoners packed their backpacks with batteries, baby clothes and garbage bags. They wore masks, gloves and carried shovels in their hands. Their goal was not Central Park, but Staten Island. These were the New York Runners in Support of Staten Island who crossed Upper New York Bay Sunday morning to the Sandy-struck island to deliver much needed supplies and help the islanders clean up their battered homes.


Immediately after Mayor Bloomberg announced cancellation of the New York City Marathon, a small group of marathon buddies decided to combine their momentum for running with a rescue effort. They contacted FEMA and Staten Island locals asking what the island residents needed most, and on Friday evening created a Facebook page, New York Runners in Support of Staten Island. Within hours, the page that called for runners to deliver supplies to the island on Sunday gained more than 300 “Likes.” By Saturday morning, the number of “Likes” grew over 1,000. By Sunday morning, the number reached 4,000.


Some 1,200 people showed up at South Ferry Terminal between 7:30 am and 9:30 am, according to Jeanne Meyer, one of the organizers, adding that about three-quarters of them had been scheduled to run in the marathon. Among them was Arnaud Gibersztajn, a French-born New York-based painter, who would have run his first New York Marathon to celebrate his 50th birthday. The cancellation, he said “was the right decision,” adding that it was “a major relief for everybody.” He was joined by his 12 year-old daughter, Louise.

Ikeda arrived in NYC on Friday evening, Nov 2 and learned the marathon was canceled. On Staten Island Ferry, Nov 4.


They were joined by a group of five Japanese runners, who ranged in age from 63 to 74. Susumu Ikeda, 74, said he “was sure there would be a rescue event like this. Many marathons were canceled last year throughout Japan in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunami, and lots of marathoners organized charity events.”


Staten Islanders welcomed the marathoners. A man waved to the rescue runners across Bay Street, shouting “Thanks Guys!” A driver stopped her car to offer walkers a ride. Olga Morozova, 50, a Ukraine-born South Beach resident repeated in her Russian-accented English, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


Morozova hugs a marathoner who gave her a flashlight.

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