Racing toward better education

Foundation hosts 7th annual 5K, to raise money for school grants


When the clock strikes 8:30 a.m. on March 25, Hewlett Bay will be a beautiful backdrop for participants as they take off on an annual 5K run across East Rockaway for a good cause.

The East Rockaway Education Foundation is hosting its seventh annual 5K, which will start and finish at 130 Hewlett Point Ave. For the first time, Elitefeats will time the run, which will also be available to those who want to participate virtually. EREF Director Vera Gallagher said she hoped there would be a high turnout for this year’s run to provide EREF with funds to present to the East Rockaway Public Schools.

“We provide grants for teachers and staff so that they can have a positive impact on students in the district,” Gallagher said. The EREF is a 501c nonprofit, and raises funds that get redistributed back into the school district. The organization, however, is a separate entity, not directly affiliated with the district.

According to Gallagher, sponsors contribute some of the funds to the 5K. “Veolia is a major sponsor for us,” Gallagher said. “But also businesses that associate with the school district do support the foundation and provide some funds as sponsors.” Participants pay $30 to participate in the run and all proceeds go directly to the EREF.

According to the EREF website, over $25,000 was raised since this event started in 2016.

Annually, EREF raises money for programs, projects, and equipment for the East Rockaway schools. The EREF grant program has funded several projects, with a focus on STEAM and STEM, in the East Rockaway schools.

“We helped raise money for books,” Gallagher said. “We also do a lot of digital or tech type of grants, such as a 3D printer.” Other EREF grants funded culinary classes, smartboards, robotics, author visits, and science lab equipment.

Gallagher attributes the foundation’s success to its board members. “The directors and the board of the foundation itself is a dynamic group,” she said. “They look to motivate each other as well as residents to continue to help students to do fundraising and provide grants.”

Gallagher is excited to have Elitefeats at the event to time the runners. “People who run and want to get to a certain level of competing want to know what their time is,” Gallagher said. “So we could have just done a fun-run, but the foundation stepped it up this year.”

Participation has been high for previous runs, but this year Gallagher’s goal is to push the number of participants even higher. “We’re looking to expand the numbers of runners for this annual event,” Gallagher said.

Besides raising money for the foundation, Gallagher mentioned that EREF is continuing this run for its health benefits. “People are looking to get outside and be healthier so this is a great way for them to do that,” she said.

The start and finish location is also something that Gallagher is looking forward to.

“It’s a nice spot and it’s kind of unique,” Gallagher said about the race starting and ending on Hewlett Point Avenue. “It’s within the village and we have access to the bay.” According to Gallagher, the trail is flat and is suitable for all ages.

“People and families can come, they can walk, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a running event,” Gallagher said. She added that people could do the run virtually on their “Peloton or workout room.” The main takeaway Gallagher wanted to convey about this event is that people can contribute in many different ways.