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Smithtown teen spearheads fundraising 5K

Rachel Gladstone realized during a cross country meet

Rachel Gladstone realized during a cross country meet at Sunken Meadow State Park that the area needed recycling bins. Credit: Handout

A Smithtown West High School junior is spearheading a race and fun run at Sunken Meadow State Park on June 13 to raise money to purchase recycling bins for plastic, glass and cans for the park.

Rachel Gladstone, 17, is organizing the event in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. The Sunken Meadow Recycle Project 5K Race and Half Mile Fun Run for Kids is scheduled to kick off with the fun run from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m., followed by the 5K at 10 a.m. Gladstone is a member of Girl Scout Troop 295 and got involved in the event as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, which involves executing a project for the community. She came up with the idea for the recycling bins after visiting Sunken Meadow with her high-school cross country team.

"For cross country we have all of our races at Sunken Meadow State Park," she says. "I remember once I was at a race and there are so many runners and every single person had a water bottle with them and there was no place to put them. I want to go into environmental science when I am older, and it bothered me so much." Gladstone is hoping to raise enough to purchase 10 bins.

Admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the event and includes a T-shirt while supplies last; the fun run is free and meant for children 12 and younger and includes recycled objects along the course. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. An awards ceremony at 11:30 a.m. will recognize top male and female as well as top three males and females within each age category with medals.

Gladstone says she hopes to make the race an annual event, raising money for bins at another park each year. "I don't want to stop at Sunken Meadow -- I want to do all the parks around Long Island," she says. "I don't want it to be a one-time thing."

For information or to register, email

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