Jaywalking: A Sunday race for a good cause

Monday, September 11, 2017

For eight years, the Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik Memorial Fund has helped raise money for a variety of community-related projects. On Sunday, the non-profit charity will be giving back in a unique way that could help a lot of area programs.

The Harrington Hanzalik Memorial Fund will be holding its seventh annual “Kringle Candle Chase” 5K Run and Walk at Pratt Field in Bernardston. The race begins at 9 a.m. All runners ages 18 and under compete for free. This season, any youth program with five or more competitors will not only get the free entry but will actually receive a $250 to $500 grant from the JEHH Memorial Fund.

“We really want to encourage kids to come out and be healthy,” JEHH founder and vice-president Adam Harrington said. “It’s a give-back for us. The only ones paying are the adults, which is great, and we want to encourage all types of clubs, teams or whatever to come and sign up. They can use the money for whatever they want.”

Harrington, who will be on hand to oversee the race prior to beginning the NBA season as Director of Player Development with the Brooklyn Nets, stressed that the give-back is not only limited to sports teams.

“Chess teams, model UN teams, whatever, it doesn’t have to be sports-related teams,” Harrington said.

Teams are encouraged to wear uniforms or T-shirts but do not have to. Teams can register beforehand (www.runreg.com/kringle-candle-chase) or they can register on the day of the event between 7 and 8:45 a.m. at Pratt Field.

What’s great about the give-back is that it is also a way for those paying to run the race to see those faces directly impacted by the charity. You might find yourself running alongside someone from a local soccer team at one point, then run next to someone from a local chess team. You know that your race fee is helping out both people.

Harrington said the idea was spawned because the fund was looking for a unique way to give back, plus he also wanted to encourage as many people as they could to participate.

“We just want more people to be active,” he said. “And this is a way for these runners to know that the money is going directly back into the community.”

While the race is a great way to give back to area youth groups, the first 250 paid adult participants receive a candle and goodie bag courtesy of race sponsor Kringle Candle. Cost is $20 for adults if done beforehand, and $30 if registering on the day of the race. There are also prizes awarded to winners. Online registration ends Friday evening at 5 p.m.

The entire event begins and ends at Pratt Field in Bernardston. Registration takes place at the field, where there is a march for all runners from to Kringle Candle, where the race actually begins. The police and fire departments will lead the march.

The race ends back at Pratt Field at a finish line donated and decorated by Snow & Son’s Landscaping. There is also food and drink after the race donated by Aquafina and Stop & Shop. And T-Shirts are designed by Bulldog Design in Keene, N.H. Rich Messer of the Northfield Mount Hermon School Dining Services and other local restaurants will be offering free coffee, hot chocolate, tea, donuts and breakfast before and after the race.

It figures to a be a great day for all involved.

For more information go to www.chaseyourdreamsnow.org or register at www.runreg.com.

As for the JEHH Memorial Fund, it continues to thrive.

The foundation began in 2010 to honor Harrington Hanzalik, who passed away giving birth to her first child, Chase Thomas Hanzalik on April 26, 2010, who also passed away that day.

The fund has helped raise money for a variety of projects and it comes through two major fundraisers. The Kringle Candle Chase, as well as the annual JEHH Memorial Golf Tournament, which is held in the spring. This past spring the golf tournament raised its most money ever, bringing in over $75,000, a portion of which is being used on a project at Northfield Elementary, which includes rebuilding the basketball courts and other things. Plans for the project will be on display at the race, and construction on that project is expected to begin and end this fall.

Many local folks likely have connections to people affected by Hurricane Irma in Florida over the weekend. Not many have a unique story like Turners Falls resident, youth coach and TFHS sports fan Mike Reid.

Reid and his wife of eight years, Kera, had finally decided to move to Florida after Kera’s son, Ian Moriarty, finally graduated from Turners Falls High School this past spring and was off to college. With Ian off to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study Civil Engineering and serve in the Air Force ROTC, Mike and Kera finally decided to move to Florida, where they would be closer to Kera’s father, Steve Spring.

The couple recently closed on a home in Zephyrhills, Fla. (about 30 minutes northeast of Tampa Bay), and 10 days ago packed up their car and drove to their new home.

At the same time, Irma was already making her way toward the Sunshine State, first as a tropical depression and then a tropical storm before finally growing into a Category 5 hurricane. That in itself would be enough to upset homeowners, but when the Reids made the move, the insurance companies had stopped accepting applications for home insurance due to the impending hurricane.

The initial forecast had the eye of the hurricane passing through the eastern part of Florida and the Reid’s were not planning to vacate, but by late last week things had changed. The eye was projected to move north along the west coast. With that in mind, the Reids decided they better evacuate. Because they have three pet cats, they were unable to go to a local shelter, so they instead began looking for hotels. Mike began searching on Hotels.com and was unable to find anything in Florida or Georgia, so the Reids and their three cats headed 6½ hours north to Charleston, S.C., to stay in a hotel.

On Sunday, the Reids sat in their hotel watching football and coverage of the hurricane, which was make a beeline for their uninsured home. At 1 a.m. Monday, the eye of the then Category 2 hurricane went directly over Zephyrhills. By 7 a.m., the curfew in Zephyrhills had been lifted, and at 10:30 the Reid’s got confirmation from Kera’s father, Steve, that despite extensive wind damage and power-outage in the area, their home was unscathed.

“It definitely made for a few sleepless nights,” Reid said. “We feel extremely fortunate, especially without the insurance. It’s a weird experience not being able to do anything about it.”

By the time the Reids departed for their return to Zephyrhills Monday evening, they learned that the town was still without power. They were relieved when told that their home had been spared by the winds and rain. So, that meant the only mess to sort out would be on the inside, where they had been unpacking and arranging rooms when forced to scurry off.

“It was definitely not the best welcoming ever, by any means,” Mike joked.

Quite a start to the new Florida chapter of their lives — one that could have been much, much worse.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.