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Local Charity Wins Long Island Marathon Challenge

Friends of Karen brought home the trophy in a contest to get the most participants running in the 2011 Long Island Marathon.

, a nonprofit that gives financial support to families of children with life-threatening illnesses, has brought home the trophy for the second year in a row in the RXR/TIAA-CREF 2011 Long Island Marathon for getting the most runners of any charity to come to the race.

The trophy for the winner of the “Run for Charity Challenge” was presented to Friends of Karen at a recent ceremony in the offices of Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

The charity signed up 225 runners who raised more than $100,000 for the organization, according to Regional Director Nancy Mariano.

“Marathon weekend is a wonderful opportunity to tell the story of what we do,” she said.

The organization recruited people to run for them in a variety of ways.

“We reached out and signed up participants from our active Long Island advisory board, corporations, schools, local gyms, community organizations and new this year a ‘Friends Asking Friends’ website that really spread the word of our mission,” said Patricia Conway, who works in the charity’s special events department.

And many of the participants in the marathon are families of the children Friends of Karen has helped.

“In fact, this is our fifth event, which was the brainchild of one mother of four children, one of who was diagnosed with Leukemia weeks after his first birthday,” Conway said.

Luke is now a “tall, handsome nine year old” and his mother wanted to give back to Friends of Karen for their help to the family.

“She joins us every year to run in honor of Luke and she has recruited friends and neighbors as far away as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania,” said Conway.

Through the years some families have joined them at the marathon in tribute to their children.

“We started this with the intention of gaining awareness and funds for Friends of Karen but have seen it turn into a weekend filled with camaraderie and wonderful feelings for people knowing they are helping a very important organization in its mission in helping so many families who continue to need their services,” she said.

Mariano said that in all, more than 900 people contributed to the challenge in some way. She called the result “priceless.” The “Charity Challenge” trophy will sit in the display case at Friends of Karen’s Port Jefferson location for another year.

According to a statement released by the organizers of the event, the RXR/TIAA-CREF Long Island Marathon is a weekend filled with various running opportunities for athletes of all ages and skill levels.

Next year’s marathon will be held on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6. For more information go to www.run-li.com.

To learn more about Friends of Karen please visit their .

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