For Anthony and John DiGangi, summers used to mean idyllic afternoons exploring Fire Island with their two other brothers, sister and mother, Rose, a lover of the island's scenery.
When Rose was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2006, the two brothers -- both recreational runners -- decided to support brain tumor research by organizing an annual event, one eventgoers say is marked by the sort of hospitality Rose would have approved.
"It's how Mrs. D would have wanted it," John's wife, Amy DiGangi, 40, of Manhattan, said of her mother-in-law, who died in 2007. "She always wanted to be the best hostess possible."
In the past six years, the brothers have raised a total of about $300,000 for the American Brain Tumor Association through their annual 5-kilometer -- or 3.1-mile -- race through Seaview, Ocean Bay Park and Ocean Beach.
Roughly 461 people ran Sunday's race, 178 more than last year's Run for Rose, which John said was dampened by 7 inches of rain.
Fire Island restrictions on motor vehicles make organizing a large event more challenging, said Anthony DiGangi. "We have to use golf carts and wagons to transport everything," he said.
But the close-knit island is what makes the race work, said his brother. "We just couldn't do this if it wasn't for the support of this community," said John DiGangi, 40, during a post-race celebration at the Schooner Inn, where he has been a bartender for 18 years.
Anthony, 33, agreed, noting that the food had been donated, much of it by local stores. As he explained that, a passing well-wisher hugged Anthony, congratulating him on the event.
As she walked away, John said, "It's just like that, people . . . coming up to me to show their support."
Ellie Mal, a Fire Island resident who volunteered at the post-race event, agreed. "We support them simply because we're a community that supports our community," she said.
The brothers said word has spread about the event, and people from across the tri-state area who have been personally affected by brain cancer have formed teams to raise funds.
"My mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor on March 22 this year," Andrich said. "I'm not a runner, but anything I can do to support brain cancer research, I will do."