Anthony Amen arrived at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa 90 minutes early Thursday for the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Long Island Chapter 5K Turkey Trot.
The 37-year-old Whitestone resident and his girlfriend, Toni Tallerico, 36, stopped off at the park on their way out to Shirley to celebrate Thanksgiving at her mother’s house. Tallerico is a semi-regular competitive runner with a few races under her belt. Amen described himself more as a jogger.
“Seems like a nice thing to do for a good cause,” said Amen, who was sporting his lucky number 13 for the race.
“Also, it justifies all of the calories I’m about to take in,” Tallerico added, laughing.
This is the second year the organization, which is based in Hauppauge, has held the race. Last year, attorneys James P. Joseph, 45, of Merrick, Brian Griffin and Tom Foley, each 43 of Massapequa, began the tradition to give back to the charity after Joseph won his battle with leukemia.
This year the race had about 1,700 runners, up from about 1,000 in 2010. Joseph said he expects to see around $25,000 raised between entry fees and donations, all of which will go to the society’s research efforts.
“I’m a leukemia survivor and I believe I’m here today because of [the society’s] research that cured me,” he said. “There are a number of other turkey trots for the cause but we felt there was a void in the South Shore.”
Andrew Valenski, 18, of Massapequa Park, placed first with a time of 15:23 and did so by overcoming his own obstacles. He said he has a lung infection that made for a rough end to his cross country season at the University of Richmond, but participated in the race anyway to help the cause.
“We’ve had a bunch of cancers in our family, not leukemia or lymphoma, but this is such an important cause,” he said. “My legs felt really heavy and and I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to, but it was fun.”
Andrew Valenski, 18, of Massapequa Park, ran the 2011 National Leukemia and Lymphoma's Long Island Chapter Turkey Trot, a 5K, in 15:23. (Nov. 24, 2011)