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Fundraiser for scholarship in honor of Smithtown teen

Since his son died in March 2005, Andrew Odnoha has worked to turn that tragedy into something that could benefit others.

Drew Odnoha was 19 years old and a student at the University of Scranton when he was fatally hit by a car as he crossed the street while home on Long Island for spring break. The Odnoha family, of Smithtown, immediately established the Family and Friends of Drew Odnoha Scholarship Fund by asking for donations in lieu of flowers for the services.

Since then, the fund has awarded two $4,000 scholarships to students at Saint Dominic High School, the Oyster-Bay Catholic school where Drew graduated from. The family fundraises through an annual benefit dinner and raffles prizes from local businesses, Andrew Odnoha said, but this year got a surprise.

For the first time, one business has stepped up to run a separate fundraiser to benefit the scholarship fund.

On July 14, Smithtown Hot Yoga, which opened in April, will hold what owners are calling the “First Annual Sweat-a-Thon.” Participants will be asked for a minimum $10 donation and are encouraged to have friends and family sponsor them.

They will be challenged to participate in three consecutive Bikram Yoga classes, where the studio is heated to 105 degrees. Each class is 90 minutes long; participants that complete two classes will receive a week of free yoga; and participants that complete all three classes will win a free month of yoga, said co-owner Debbie Burack.

Burack said Andrew Odnoha approached her in the spring to make a donation for the benefit dinner, and she was so touched by his story that she decided to do more.

Odnoha said he didn’t know about the Sweat-a-Thon until Burack called him in the final stages of organizing to ask if he would accept the proceeds.

“I hate to have found it out this way,” he said. “But there are very kind and generous people out there.”

For more information on the Sweat-a-Thon or to secure a spot, call 631-265-YOGA or email info@smithtownhotyoga.com.

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