Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday that the $143,500 in proceeds from last year’s Suffolk County Marathon have gone out to the 15 groups providing services to local veterans and touted the third annual Suffolk Marathon on Oct. 29.
Joining Bellone at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip was Alan Guerci, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Services, the major sponsor of the multi-race event. Proceeds go to help veterans causes. Also present were Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mt. Sinai), vice chairwoman of the veterans committee, and Legis. William Lindsay III, whose district encompasses a large part of the race route.
The largest grant was $31,000, which went to “Make It Count,” a West Islip nonprofit that helps provide veterans’ housing. Dominican Village, an assisted living complex in Amityville, got $1,300 to help pay for its annual Celebrate Veterans luncheon.
Officials say 24 groups applied for funds and 15 were selected based on a competitive rating system.
Announcement of the payments followed disclosures in March that payments for the 2016 race had not gone out and eight groups had not received checks from the proceeds of the 2015 race.
Officials say that of the 48 groups that applied for money from the 2015 race, 19 were selected to receive funds, and all but two received their grants. The two groups declined to enter contracts with the county.
Fred Miller of the American Legion post in Mastic, said he finally got his money from the 2015 race, but said, “How can I be satisfied? It took 10 months to get the money.” He said his organization did not apply the second time around because of the difficulties involved.
Tom Horn, commander of the American Legion Post 94 in Babylon, Bellone’s hometown, said the organization also got its money. “We had to file the paperwork on what we planned to do with the money, then show them how the money was spent,” he said.
The race, which drew 2,600 runners last year, starts in Patchogue, heads west on Montauk Highway to Heckscher State Park and then returns to Patchogue.
In addition to the marathon, runners can compete in a half marathon, a 5-kilometer run or team relays. There is also a virtual race where participates can sign up, run the course wherever they may be and post their times. Last year, a group of 100 soldiers, stationed in the Mideast ran the event at the same time the race was being held.
Officials say to increase safety for the Oct. 29 race, Catholic Health Services plans to add bicycle medic teams to provide aid sooner to injured or distressed runners. Nine medical stations will be placed along the route.