The Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill drew a record number of registrants for the 16th annual Run With Rotary recently.
The 1-mile Ramble and 5K Run, which is held annually, had 600 participants– its highest number to date. However, nearly 1,000 people showed up to the event, with 383 runners crossing the finish line. The community event is The Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill’s primary fundraiser each year.
In 1997, Run With Rotary originally began as The Run With Aimee.
Aimee Eve Polak was a Montgomery High School graduate who died in a car accident on April 8, 1996. Only a couple of days after her fatal accident, her parents Joe and Elaine Polak started a memorial fund in her honor. The Aimee Eve Polak Memorial Fund awards yearly scholarships to graduating seniors of Montgomery High School and Hillsborough High School – and donates to other community projects and local organizations.
After Joe and Elaine ran the Run With Aimee event for 10 years, they decided they didn’t want to continue hosting the event because of the amount of work and time it consumed. Since a lot of the local Rotary Club’s members helped with the Run With Aimee throughout the years, they asked about taking over running the event.
And, since then, it has been coined the Run With Rotary.
The run also incorporated a bone-marrow drive for the first time this year through Match for Marilyn, an organization started by the children of one of the club’s lifelong members and former co-chairperson of the run, Bill Hyncik.
Hyncik’s wife, Marilyn, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006. Although she has been through several sets of successful treatments and setbacks, Marilyn now needs a bone-marrow transplant.
So Bill’s eldest daughter and her husband singlehandedly created the website, www.matchformarilyn.com, to inform people of Marilyn, her cause, and how they can help. Hyncik’s eldest daughter, along with his three other children, all held events through their jobs and universities and collaboratively managed to register 1,000 donors.
Hyncik also explained how the club collaborated with Montgomery High School on their recent blood drive and incorporated a bone marrow drive for Match for Marilyn within less than a month.
Both events, within the blood drive and the run, were a tremendous success.
“This coincides with a lot of things that the Rotary Club does,” Hyncik said. “It’s not only to help my wife, but the other 80,000 people who are in need.”
Match for Marilyn registered 85 new bone marrow donors at the 2012 Run With Rotary. The willing donors supplied a saliva sample that was input into a national database known as Be The Match Registry, which is a program operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), that connects people with leukemia, lymphoma, blood cancer and sickle cell disease with available matching donors.
The club is going to try and incorporate this event in future events because it was such a success.
“Doing these types of drives are not very labor intensive and it can really help people,” Hyncik said. “It’s one of the few donations that you can make and be alive to see it.”
Aside from the bone marrow registrants and donors, the overall event kicked off with the 1-mile ramble, which was an easier, flatter course that all ages of attendees participated in.
Following the ramble was the 5K Run, or 3.1 miles, which was targeted toward the more serious and experienced runners and athletes. However, the 5K also welcomed all participants and drew in a considerable number of recreational runners and walkers. The 5K was much like the ramble, except for the slight hill that was incorporated into the first mile.
The run gave out a total of 94 awards in many different categories.
Awards were given to the first three overall 5K female and male finishers. The “Montgomery Township/Rocky Hill Resident” award category was offered to the first female and male Montgomery Township Resident 5K finishers. Awards were also be presented to the top three female and top three male finishers in the following 12 age groups in the 5K – Under 15, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39,40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64 and 65 and over.
Awards were also presented to the first place overall masters – 40-plus years – female and male finishers.
“Our local Rotary is a great organization. They do truly good work, and lots of it,” Rotary Club member Louise Wilson said. ”I’ve been a Rotary admirer for years but just recently became a member. I hope learning more about the run and the projects we do helps generate even more support for Rotary and more members.”
Rotary Club president Doug Merritt has been involved with the event for 6 years, since the event was taken over by the Rotary Club. Merritt has been president of the Club for the last two years, but has been a member for 22.
On top of leading the Rotary members, Merritt explained the importance of this event and of the businesses and organizations that sponsor it.
“It’s very important that we raise a substantial amount of sponsorship money with the event because it’s so important to Rotary’s ability to support the charity projects and disaster relief that are central to our mission as a service organization,” Wilson said. “But, it’s also very important to bring people together for an event that builds a sense of community, and I think the Run With Rotary is one of the best opportunities we have in Montgomery to do just that.”
The Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at the Cherry Hill Country Club in Skillman. For more information about the club, visit www.MontgomeryRotary.org.