Age Is Nothing but a Number When It Comes to Giving Back

Support for charities comes in many forms from people of all ages. This summer, three ninth graders at West Genesee High School took to the pavement leg after leg as they ran 24 miles to raise money for organizations negatively impacted by COVID-19.

When the young women observed and recognized how the pandemic had drastically impacted members of their community they felt compelled to do something. After scrolling through videos on social media, Rebecca Dickey, Erin Fortune and Vivian Raposa came across a 24 miles in 24 hours running challenge. To the young cross-country runners, it seemed exciting, achievable and a great way to raise funds quick.

“We were really excited to give back to the community while doing something active at the same time,” said Dickey, a 9th grader at West Genesee High School. “My biggest goal was to get through the first mile and move on to the rest.”

After a month of planning the route, their sleep schedule and how to engage others, they were off and running on June 17th in Raposa’s neighborhood. They started the run at noon and ended their 24 miles by 10:30 AM the following day. The goal was to take 30-minute breaks every on-hour to rest and get shut-eye during the evening slots. As a group, they agreed that the 2:00-5:00 AM slot would be the toughest.

“I really wanted to finish the full 24 miles,” said Fortune. “I knew it was going to be challenging but it was important for me to push through.”

Parents and community members rallied for the girls as they tackled the 24-mile mark. Neighbors stood outside applauding and cheering as they raced through the neighborhood six feet apart from one another to respect the social distancing ordinance. They made no mistake when it came to protecting their health and safety throughout the 24-mile journey.

“We have family that live in lower New York where COVID-19 hit hard,” said Eli Fortune, Erin’s mother. “The girls’ effort were creative and helped add some positivity to an otherwise negative situation. We, as parents, are so proud of them.”

The trio engaged others in the community to participate in the race was by requesting that they pay $1 for each mile they ran. All in all, the girls raised approximately $605 for the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Support Fund.

The Central New York Community Foundation, in partnership with United Way of Central New York, Allyn Foundation, The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, established the COVID-19 Community Support Fund to support nonprofit organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. To date, the fund has raised over $2 million from which vital funding is rapidly deployed to support the greatest needs.

“With the support of our friends, family, and community members, we were able to give back in a way we never anticipated being able to,” said Raposa. “We are so thankful for the immense support we received along the way.”

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