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Oakdale 5k helps found historical society

Runners kick off Fourth of July weekend by

Runners kick off Fourth of July weekend by participating in the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Firecracker 5K to raise money to found an Oakdale Historic Society. (July 2, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Preserving Oakdale’s history took a huge step forward Saturday, thanks to more than 300 people taking steps during the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce’s third-annual Firecracker 5K fundraiser.

“We wanted to have an event that brought people into the community, and we also wanted to raise funds for different foundations,” said Ron Beattie, vice president of the chamber and the race’s director, who estimated that runners' entry fees grossed between $7,000 and $9,000, which, after expenses, will benefit the effort to start the Oakdale historical society.

Beattie is a longtime resident of Oakdale who relishes its history. His face lit up as he explained that the area featured numerous robber-baron mansions -- a few of which still stand. Oakdale is home to the LaSalle estate, now a campus for St. John’s University; much of what is Dowling College was once the home of William Vanderbilt.

"We want to look at more of our history, even beyond the robber barons, and try to preserve that," he said.

Individual runners supported their own causes, like Jac’s Pack, a local nonprofit that races to raise cancer awareness and money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Jac's Pack volunteers participate in at least 12 races a year across Long Island and New York City to raise money from sponsors.

Oakdale’s Jimmy Hahn, 22, was one of the Jac's Pack runners. He trained on the course mapped out for Saturday’s race while in high school.

“I’ve been here my whole life, and it’s nice to have it [the race] in my hometown,” he said.

Check back later for a video feature.

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