There’s almost no limit to how far two Long Islanders are willing to go to raise money for families affected by terrorism — even if it means running and cycling nonstop to Manhattan to do it.
With friends and supporters cheering them on, Eva Casale, 51, a long-distance runner from Glen Cove, and handcyclist Michael Roesch, 36, of Shelter Island, began their 75-mile odyssey on Saturday from Manhasset to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan as part of a fundraiser for Tuesday’s Children, a Manhasset nonprofit assisting families who have lost loved ones in terror attacks.
The run is expected to last roughly 18 hours, winding through communities heavily impacted by 9/11, and ending around 9 a.m. Sunday.
“I’m just really excited,” Casale said as she kicked off her run from the Manhasset-Lakeville Firehouse Company No. 1.
Donations for the event, dubbed “Footsteps for 15” — the name references the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center — reached $3,367 by Saturday, organizers said.
Casale was accompanied by several members of her fundraising group, Team EVA, who planned to take turns running alongside her during each leg of the 12-stop marathon.
David Chan, 56, of Holbrook, one of Casale’s team members, called her “very focused. You have to be a phenomenal athlete to pull this off and she is that.”
“I’ve never met a more determined person and more focused person than Eva,” said Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children. “She doesn’t give up, she is tenacious. She is a real heroic individual. Whatever she starts out, she finishes.”
Having trained for the event by running six to 10 miles several days a week, Casale, who serves as vice president of information technology at Suffolk Federal Credit Union, said she has no problem enduring the long distance and the summer heat to raise awareness for good causes.
“It’s my way of paying it forward and I enjoy running, it’s my passion,” Casale said. “And with this run, I can bring awareness to what Tuesday’s Children does, what kind of work they do with families.”
The same passion for helping others runs deep in Roesch. After running in dozens of events to raise money for veterans, Roesch, a personal trainer and former Air Force Special Operations veteran, severely injured his left leg in 2013 running in the New York City Marathon.
So Roesch — who has had two leg surgeries so far — is using an arm-powered bicycle he received in November to complete this weekend’s marathon.
“I don’t like barriers,” Roesch said. “As long as I’m able to move, I’m going to do something for somebody else.”