Long Islander Richard Brodsky has been HIV positive since 1997, a brain cancer survivor since 2002, and “marathon runner for life.” Hosted by the city of Baldwin, the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation put on the 14th annual “5K AIDS Cancer Run Walk” on Sunday, June 6, which also advocated for COVID vaccinations and offered virtual participation this year.
Brodsky promoted this event to spread awareness about the COVID vaccine, he said, “I’m 68. I got to take my second Pfizer COVID vaccine about two months ago, and six weeks later, I ran my fastest marathon in the past 20 months.” His wife Jodi Brodsky and he finished the Queens Marathon on April 10, 2021 at 3:59:36 and 4:12:16 respectively.
Jodi Brodsky echoes Richard's call for everyone to get vaccinated, stating that it is “the only way we are going to get our country back to normal.” In Nassau county, 54.77% of the total population has been fully vaccinated whereas the total population of New York State is at 47.5 percent.
Richard adds, “If I can take this vaccine without having side effects, so many other Americans can too.” He also claims that he is now the only person with both AIDS and Cancer to still run marathons in the world.
According to a study done by the CDC, people above the age of 55 who have the Pfizer vaccine experience one or more symptoms 70.6 percent of the time compared to people ages 18-55 at 82.8 percent.
To be conscious of COVID, masks had to be worn before and after that event but did not have to be worn during the 5K. Social distancing was asked to be maintained the entire time.
The 14th annual Baldwin run walk brought in 205 registered participants with walk-ins and 16 virtual residents, or participants that ran a 5K where they were located, from 10 different states from as far away as Arizona, and was sponsored by local businesses, including Baldwin Bagel Cafe, Costello's Ace Hardware, Grand View Auto Body, H & B Premier Tax and Accounting LLC, McDonalds, Ramada by Wyndham, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.
People began arriving at the designated starting area around 8AM to get ready for their runs and walks. Starting in east Baldwin Park near Wolfson drive, participants began the 5K in three waves of runners starting at 8:30 a.m., with each group departing on 30-minute intervals with a four wave of walkers at 10 a.m.
Executive Director of Options for Community Living, Yolando Robano Gross, coordinated with staff and organization members and accounted for about 40 participants in the 5K. The Options for Community Living has programs that are specifically designed to help people with HIV find affordable places to live.
“We come out to this 5K every year to support Richard Brodsky and he supports us the rest of the year,” Robano Gross comments. “Last year, there was not one due to circumstances, but this year people left in waves to stay safe and it was a beautiful day to support the cause.”
Participants walked west in Baldwin Park along Grand Avenue until they reached south of the tennis courts on the western side of the park. Runners finished within 20 minutes to an hour of the start of the 5K while walkers took about 60-90 minutes to reach the western tennis courts.
Baldwin resident Hareesha Boyagodage brought his family to the event, which he said his kids thoroughly enjoyed. He said, "Completing the race showed them how valuable is to complete something you start and not give up halfway when it gets difficult."
Tarika James, MD Chief Medical Officer of Long Island FQHC, participant of the 5K says, “It was a beautiful day to support such a worthy cause. It is great that Richard Brodsky has an everlasting passion for supporting research toward AIDS and Cancer.”
Registration came with an orange personalized dry fit t-shirt and AIDS and cancer survivors participated free. All participants also received an assortment of gift certificates to local Long Island restaurants and were entered into multiple raffles. All participants also received a medal at the end.
Proceeds of the 5K are “to benefit people living with cancer and HIV at Center of AIDS Research & Treatment at Northwell Health/North Shore University Hospital and its Client Advisory Board, Five Towns Community Center, and St. John's Episcopal Hospital.” Donations are always open, so please contact Richard Brodsky at email@example.com or visit www.5kaidscancer.com.