Nassau's Brick 26 race to aid vets groups

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano joins veterans groups and MMA fighters to announce a marathon to benefit veterans on Aug. 4. The day will feature an event in which participants will compete while carrying backpacks full of bricks. Videojournalist: Howard Schnapp (April 30, 2012)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano kicked off the inaugural year of his Brick 26 Challenge Monday, with dozens of supporters, including former Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Matt Serra.

The Aug. 4 fundraiser for several veterans groups is named for the five 5-pound bricks that most participants will carry throughout the 10K racecourse in a 1-pound backpack, as well as a local veterans support group.

"With many of our heroes returning home and a growing number of local veterans in need of financial, emotional and physical assistance, events such as the Brick 26 challenge can be of great assistance," Mangano said at the Veterans Plaza in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow -- where the challenge will be held. "All of the funds raised go to charities that help our hometown heroes."

The walk-endurance run is designed to test participants' stamina, with a variety of obstacle courses along the route. There will be various event levels, from a one-mile Honor Walk to the 10K course in which participants carry 26 pounds of brick in a back pack with the symbols of four military boot camps.

More than 1,000 participants are expected to sign up for the Eisenhower Park event, with about 100 already on board, said officials of the event.

Besides Serra, who grew up in East Meadow and martial arts fighter Eddie "Truck" Gordon from Freeport, other athletes also were on hand to lend their strength and support to the challenge.

"The veterans are the true heroes," Gordon said. "They are the warriors fighting the real battle overseas, while we do it here for fun." Gordon said he'd be at the event, "carrying some bricks."

Mark Gray, a veterans supporter and Baldwin school principal but not a veteran, said: "As citizens, we have still have a chance to serve by giving back to those who served us."

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