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Nolan Announces: 1,250 People Join Long Island MacArthur 5K Run for Veterans Race Raises More Than $40,000 to Help Veterans

Ronkonkoma, NY (June 5, 2010) - Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan was joined by Councilmen John Edwards and Gene Parrington, Commissioner of Aviation Teresa Rizzuto, and President of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police, Islip Lodge, Arthur Turner to announce that more than 1,200 people participated in the Long Island MacArthur Airport 5K Run for Veterans - the first road race held on the airfield of Long Island’s only commercial airport.   The race raised more than $40,000 to benefit Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans, a homegrown non-profit organization dedicated to helping local veterans.

 “It was amazing - more than a thousand people converged on one of the most unique airfields on Long Island.  Jets were taking off and landing while a virtual ribbon of humanity was walking and running on nearby taxiways and runways,” said Nolan.  He added, “It’s terrific that so many people came out to support our veterans.  It was a great day for Islip Town, for the airport - a great day to be an American.”  Nolan, along with Edwards and Parrington, participated in the race.   

“At MacArthur Airport - which is named for a great American military leader, General Douglas MacArthur - the Town of Islip has found many ways to support our veterans and military,” said Parrington, himself a former Marine. “For instance, the Hometown Heroes Program provides a warm welcome to soldiers returning home to Long Island.   We wanted to do even more to help those who have served.”   

Rizzuto said, “As Long Island’s only commercial airport, we are more than just a convenient place to catch a jet to a far away destination.  We are part of the fabric of Long Island - an island that is home to more veterans than any community in America.  So, it just made sense to offer the community the chance to run on the airport’s perimeter road, taxiway and one of our four runways as a unique and exciting way of supporting Long Island veterans.”   

Rizzuto recognized the founders of the run, Race Director Artie Turner of Stony Brook, and his two co-chairs, LIMA Law Enforcement Officer David Chan of Sayville, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee Joseph Caliguri of Ronkonkoma, whom she said “worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the race.”

Turner, Race Director for the 5K and father of Robert serving in Afghanistan said, “The support for our veterans has been tremendous.  From day-one, the airport community of businesses and individual employees have rallied together to make this happen, giving of their personal time and talent, as well as contributions of both cash and goods, such as water, bagels, just about anything we needed to put on a race. We are grateful to every business, and every organization of any kind, every individual who has contributed to this community effort.”   

Edwards, an avid runner who finished a close fourth in his division said, “From a runner’s perspective this was a terrific race - a fast, flat unique course to benefit a worthy cause.  That so many organizations and sponsors stepped up to help shows the kind of feeling people have for our veterans, especially the new, young veterans coming home now.  It felt good to run for them.”  On Sunday, Edwards also hosted the second annual Town of Islip Great South Bay Triathlon, along with co-sponsors Southside Hospital and Bay Shore YMCA.

Among the major sponsors were BAE, Airway, Darby Dental, the MacArthur Holiday Inn, Optimum WiFi, Sheltair Aviation, and Southwest Airlines.  (For a list of sponsors go to www.flylima.com  ).   

Steve Clarke, a Suffolk County Police Officer and retired Navy veteran, who founded Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans said, “Since I started the charity three years ago, I have sometimes felt like a ‘one man show’ but I’ve gotten growing support from my colleagues in the law enforcement community and from my two ‘right hand men’ Vice President John Jex and Public Affairs Officer Chris Delaney.  Now, with the Town of Islip, MacArthur Airport and the NYS FOP, the success of this race had made it clearer than ever that there is broad support for our veterans among the community of small and large businesses, individuals and organizations.  It was extremely gratifying to see the patriotic spirit that prevailed on race day.” 

Record numbers of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other disabilities, including traumatic brain injury.  The unemployment rate among returning veterans is 21% - more than 10% higher than the national average among other Americans.  In addition, Suffolk County has more homeless veterans than any other county in New York State.   

Nolan added, “Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans is the ‘safety net’ beneath the safety net of governmental organizations that provide services to veterans. Steve’s organization serves a tangible need.” Nolan added that plans are already in the works to make the race an annual event.

About Long Island MacArthur Airport

The Town of Islip owns and operates Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA) located in Ronkonkoma, NY, 60 miles outside New York City.  More than 5,000 people fly LIMA each day, making LIMA one of the top 90 airports in the Unites States.  The entire airport community is proud to support our veterans and promote an appreciation of our military heritage through the Hometown Heroes Welcome Program, General Douglas MacArthur Memorial Fund, and of course, the Long Island MacArthur Airport 5K Run for Veterans.  Go to www.flyLIMA.com for more information. 

About the Fraternal Order of Police

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members and over 2,000 lodges. They are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protect and serve our communities.  The FOP helps increase the safety of the communities they serve through education, legislation, information, and community involvement.  Islip Lodge 862 of the FOP is committed to supporting our local Long Island veterans by partnering with the Town of Islip’s airport administration to organize the first Long Island MacArthur Airport 5K Run for Veterans.  Go to www.fop.net for more information.   

About Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans

Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans is dedicated to assisting Long Island veterans who are experiencing short-term emergencies, often as they struggle to cope with the difficult challenges of re-entering civilian life after serving in combat areas.  Although 9-1-1 Veterans serves veterans of all eras, the most pressing need now is to support new veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Go to www.911Veterans.com for more information.