An accountant with a commitment to charity is taking his fundraising efforts to the streets — Long Island streets to be specific.
Last year, Bethpage resident Wai Law, 55, ran from Buffalo to Battery Park to benefit the Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson's Research at Stony Brook University.
This year, Law is once again putting in the miles to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research, and also mental health support for young people.
But the run will be around the perimeter of Long Island.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I’m going to run around the entire [perimeter of ] Long Island,” Law said. “It just came to me that I’m going to do it this year, there’s no time to wait for it.”
Starting on the campus of Stony Brook University, he stepped off around 6:30 a.m. Friday on a seven-day journey running clockwise around Long Island on a route that covers 320 miles.
The journey will take him on day one from Stony Brook to Orient Point; day two will cover Orient Point to Montauk. On day three he’ll head to Westhampton. He’ll head to Nassau County on day four, ending in Seaford. Day five it’s Seaford to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Then it’s back to Long Island, ending in Huntington on day six. The run ends on day seven back in Stony Brook.
The run will be held over two weekends.
Law’s friend and fellow ultra-runner, Dennis Almodovar, 54, of Massapequa, will be with him on the journey in a hybrid role. He’ll do a mix of driving and running over the two weekends.
The friends met 16 years ago when they signed up for a charity run to raise donations for leukemia and lymphoma research.
The Thomas Hartman Center has special significance for the friends. Almodovar’s father, Ruben, died four years ago of Parkinson's disease. Last year, Law ran in memory of him.
Law said he added bringing awareness to youth mental health initiatives because he thinks it’s a subject that has been overlooked.
“This is an area we don’t talk much about and I feel like that’s going to affect the future of the country if we continue to let this lie by not addressing it,” he said.
Dr. Allison Eliscu, chief of adolescent medicine at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, agreed.
“Even before COVID, mental health among adolescents and young adults has been an issue and sometimes an issue people don’t want to talk about or acknowledge,” she said.
She said the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The money raised will go toward support services to improve adolescent and young adult mental health.
Alfredo Fontanini, professor and chair of Stony Brook University's department of neurobiology and behavior, which houses the Hartman Center, said the funding will go toward seed grants for "very innovative" research projects.
The run aims to raise $32,000 for both programs.
Law said combining running, which he enjoys, with charitable giving is a win.
“Why not use it as a way to motivate other people to address certain causes that greatly need it?” he said.