About 400 people — many from Lynbrook and other South Shore communities, some from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut — came to Greis Park on Sunday to participate in the fourth annual Feel the Breeze 5K event to benefit the Quinn Madeleine Foundation.
Eileen and Brett Linzer created the foundation after their daughter, Quinn, died at 14 months of complications of the rare genetic disorder Niemann-Pick disease Type A on Aug. 9, 2013. The disorder causes the degeneration of the nervous system and there is no cure.
The foundation grants wishes for children ages 3 and under who are fighting rare diseases, and also works with a Colorado-based lab to offer free diagnostic testing to possible carriers of the genetic mutation that causes NPA. Each year, the 5K supports the foundation, and Eileen said the overwhelming participation this year helped it move forward.
“It was incredible,” she said. “Basically how this went was going to determine how we were gonna move forward with the organization. It’s not something that we shared anywhere, but it all came together.”
Eileen said the event raised more than $34,000, which surpassed her expectations. She expressed her gratitude toward Parks Supervisor Patrick McDermott for meeting her at Greis Park at 5 a.m. to organize the event, and to the Lynbrook Police Department for keeping everyone safe. She added that there were hundreds of participants, dozens of volunteers and many spectators. A couple from Oklahoma who lost their child to a rare disease also attended the event.
In addition, Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach, the board of trustees and Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito were in attendance, and the Student Government Association at Lynbrook High School volunteered to help guide the race and held a fundraiser bake sale at the school last Friday.
Brett Linzer paced the runners by riding a bike and the Linzers’ sons, Colin, 10, and Reid, 8, both ran in the race. Before the 5K, there was a half-mile fun run, during which participants chased and tried to pass Eileen’s cousin, Billy O’Brien, of Valley Stream, who was dressed as a chicken.
Paul Curtis, of Lynbrook, crossed the finish line first in the 5K, finishing in just more than 17 minutes.
Eileen said the 5K has been scheduled at this time of year the past four years because Quinn’s birthday was May 16 and the event is right around Mother’s Day, which she said is a tough time for her and the family.
“It’s always a difficult week,” she said. “So it’s really nice to cap off that difficulty with such a huge celebration, not just of her, but of her legacy, and what she left behind.”