By Nicole Robles
On Saturday, May 30th, Brooklyn runners and residents came together to take part in the third annual McCarren 5K (M5K). The race, organized by St. Nicks Alliance in partnership with the School Settlement Association, the North Brooklyn Running Company, NYC Runs, and North Brooklyn Runners, is the highlight of the fundraiser benefiting 1100 children in summer camps. At press time the campaign has raised $48K of the $53K goal.
At 7:30 a.m. participants arrived and picked up their race materials, checked their bags, and warmed up around McCarren Park. As 9:00 a.m. approached, runners gathered at the starting line looking enthusiastic. Family and friends provided support and motivation from the sidelines as they waved and cheered on the runners.
Michael Rochford, executive director of St. Nicks Alliance, said “We are so proud of the 600 runners and walkers who turn out to support our 1100 children.” Rochford gave a special shout-out to St. Nicks Alliance deputy executive director Jose Leon for taking part in the race. “I wanted to see what it felt like to be a runner and participate in this exciting race,” said Leon on running his first ever 5K.
At exactly 9am the runners took off as adrenaline-fueled tunes played in the background to get the participants pumped up. A number of young children were excited to participate in the M5K. They walked behind the runners with their family members, the Jennings Hall Cougars (a walking team of seniors), and other walkers.
North Brooklyn Runners, a free, community-based running group, had a strong presence at the race. Many participants were seen proudly sporting their North Brooklyn Runners shirts. Many of the top placers were members of NBR.
After runners cooled down and recharged they gathered toward the stage where St. Nicks Alliance’s director of housing, Frank Lang, began the awards ceremony. Before the participants were recognized for their placements, Lang said, “We are honored to recognize those volunteer leaders who bring artists together plus make our schools and public housing better places in North Brooklyn.”
Lisa Gutting, a volunteer and local artist, is passionate about keeping the arts and culture alive in North Brooklyn. She is an active member of St. Nicks Alliance’s innovative arts program, Arts@Renaissance, and has dedicated herself to helping out with exhibitions and performances as well as providing pro-bono art classes to seniors. Gutting shared a smile and a peace sign as she accepted the award.
The next award was given to Adam Meyers, a staff attorney from Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation. Meyers works closely with St. Nicks Alliance’s Community Preservation Unit by providing legal representation to tenants in buildings facing displacement, harassment, and suffering from lack of repairs. Meyers is committed to representing those without a voice and keeping low to moderate income families in their homes in the North Brooklyn Community.
The Cooper Park Resident Council & The Williamsburg Houses Tenant Association
The Cooper Park Resident Council and The Williamsburg Houses Tenant Association worked to mobilize residents to vote in Participatory Budgeting. Their combined efforts raised nearly $500K in city capital enabling the council to renovate the gymnasium at Cooper Park and the playground at Williamsburg Houses. CP Council President Julia Foster accepted the award on behalf of the Cooper Park and tenant association president Gwendolyn Campbell accepted for Williamsburg Houses and the tenant association’s previous president Ms. Betty Jones.
PS 132 Parent Teachers Association
The final recognition was given to the PS 132 Parent Teachers Association for working with the School Settlement Association to provide a better experience for Brooklyn’s youth. The PTA’s president Jennifer Gruber accepted the award.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol was present at the awards ceremony. “All you guys are winners,” said Lentol. The assemblyman gave a shout-out to Lang and Rochford for putting the race together and enthusiastically cheered, “Let’s hear it for St. Nicks Alliance!”
The top three placers in each age category and as the ceremony came to a close the top overall awards were announced. In the women’s category, Rebecca Wassner finished 3rd with a time of 19:13, Marie Barnett finished 2nd with a time of 18:57, and Kirsten Keller came in 1st at 18:44. In the men’s overall category, Jeremy Klapper finished 3rd with a time of 16:58, Steven Crnic came in 2nd with the time of 16:51, and Karl Paranya finished in 1st place at 16:34.
Almost 600 people registered for the McCarren 5K. All of the proceeds go to summer camp recreational and educational field trips for campers, admission to local state parks, art materials, and pool permits to name a few. St. Nicks Alliance’s mission is to help the youth of North Brooklyn become lifelong learners and to thrive as adults.