For the first time, George H. McVey Elementary School will host a 5K and 1-mile fun run on Oct. 27 to cap its annual Red Ribbon Week, a schoolwide initiative that promotes health, wellness and drug awareness through various programs and assemblies.
Red Ribbon Week, which will also be held in the Bowling Green and Parkway elementary schools beginning Oct 21, and in the Meadowbrook School on Oct. 28, incorporates daily themes, workshops and guest speakers to educate students on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Michael Simone, a phys. ed. teacher at McVey, said that he and Theresa Arnone, a school social worker, wanted to expand the week’s festivities to include the entire East Meadow community. In May, the pair approached Principal Kerry Dunne about hosting a race. “I said to her, East Meadow is one of the only towns that doesn’t have their own 5K and 1-mile run,” Simone recalled. “Why don’t we set one up?”
Dunne, a former athletic director in the district, was all for it. “The children have been hearing for years and learning from their teachers about the importance of exercise in their daily lives,” she said. “I think that this is another way to have a good time staying healthy.”
But Simone and Arnone, while motivated, had a problem: neither had any experience organizing such an event. Their first meeting was with Michael Polansky, the president of the Greater Long Island Running Club, which boasts more than 4,000 members and organizes races across the Island. Polansky told Simone that a race of this caliber takes more than a year to plan. “And we were trying to do it within a few months,” Simone said.
From that point on, Simone, a McVey alum and a 1997 East Meadow High School graduate, was on a mission. He sought help from local leaders, including State Assemblyman and East Meadow native Tom McKevitt, and East Meadow Chamber of Commerce President Dolores Rome, obtained permits from the Town of Hempstead’s clerk and hired a company to record race times and distribute bibs.