By Janee Law
For the past eight years, Steven Connolly, of Dix Hills, has raised around $16,000 for Friends of Karen, a nonprofit organization that supports critically-ill children and their families.
Connolly, who is a father of two, first learned of the organization when his children were very young.
“I couldn’t imagine having to go through that, no matter how much help I was getting,” Connolly, 50, said. “After hearing what Friends of Karen did, it sucked me in.”
Connolly first joined up with the North Salem-based organization 10 years ago. Friends of Karen, which also has offices in Port Jefferson and in Manhattan, provides financial and emotional support for families with critically-ill children in the New York tri-state at no cost.
Two years after joining the nonprofit, Connolly participated in one of its annual events, a walk-run, which is the event he’s raised money through ever since.
“It really blew me away because I found out I was going to be running about a week and a half before the run and I was panicking,” Connolly said, thinking to himself “How am I going to get sponsors? Nobody is going to sponsor me?”
He continued, “I sent out a bunch of emails and I was blown away at how many people responded.”
As the president and CEO of his own company, Co-Source Solutions, a Melville based accounting and finance firm, Connolly said he gets about 50 to 60 clients and friends to sponsor him for the event, raising approximately $2,000 each year.
Connolly, a Dix Hills resident for 23 years, has been part of the Friends of Karen's advisory board for about nine years. He is now the race director for the annual walk-run, recruiting participants and sponsors for the event. Last year, the event raised around $200,000.
This year, the event will be comprised of a 5K walk-run, a 10K and both a half and full marathon, which will be held in Nassau County next weekend.
“Every time you hear a story about a family, and what they go through with their baby that has cancer, it just blows me away,” Connolly said. It “makes me realize how fortunate I am, so I better find the time to give back and help support those people.”
Connolly’s family, wife Janet and two teenage sons Matthew and Christopher now also volunteer with Friends of Karen.
Connolly’s sons are going to run with him during this year’s 10K, the first time they’ll do so. He’s also bumped his fundraising goal up to $3,000.
And he’s looking for more recruits, too.
“I’m going to do what I need to do to get as many people involved and get as much exposure as possible,” he said.
To register for this year’s event, or support a runner, visit Walkrun2016.kintera.org. The 5K walk-run (open to ages 6 and up) will be held at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale on April 30.
The next day at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, participants ages 14 and up can join in for the 10K; and ages 16 and up can register for either a half or full marathon.