As the summer comes to a close, I feel that I can breathe, another summer gone by without Chase. We miss him more every day that goes by, the sting never gets easier. I still found myself lost, lost in year two of personal grief, feeling sorry for myself and just existing. One morning I woke up and the girls were heading out to school and I felt this stirring in my heart. I had gained a bunch of weight over the summer and just had no motivation. I decided that it was time for something to change.
I had reflected on all of the amazing stories and all of the amazing people that Chase had inspired to get off the couch and move, by telling Chase's story. I decided that I could still tell Chase's story as I create my own story, and cheer for all the lives changed by our story. In that moment, I had decided to be the subject of change that I wanted to see in myself. It was time to put together something to better myself. So I put that first foot forward and started to walk 3 miles every day. Then I decided I needed to eat smarter and now I am 8 lbs down. I also decided to take an 8 week fitness challenge. I am happy to report that I am now into week 3. I am inspired! As you can also see with the 8's, Chase's is right here with me. I feel great and I am happy with the way I look.
So, now comes my goal. (I share this goal with you all because I have just recently learned that if you share a goal, you are more likely to get to it.) So I share with you how I am choosing to honor Chase for his 9th and 10th birthday. Starting on Chase's 9th birthday, I will have one year to complete 10 events, ending in October of 2015 for Chase's 10th birthday. I will complete a series of 5k runs, sprint triathlons or similar events. We can put a team together for each race or I will do them myself. It is much more fun with friends, so we will put a list together of the events and, if you would like to join me, I would love to have you. The last race will be a CMAK event that we will stage at the end of October 2015. To be able to participate, you must show that you also completed 9 events. I look forward to this journey and hope you want to do it with me.
Race4Chase Kid's Triathlon Program Invites New Sites for 2015
After the success of the 2014 Race4Chase Kids' Triathlon Program, CMAK is looking to expand the sites where the program will operate by as many as five additional sites. The application process will begin with a request for a Letter of Intent (LOI) from the prospective sites by October 31st, 2014. The selection committee will then review the LOIs and select the most attractive sites for further evaluation and eventual commitment.
We wanted to share the following article by Nick O'Connor, a Race4Chase Kid's Triathlon Program Coach from the Danbury/Brookfield site posted by the Regional YMCA Magazine on September 3rd, 2014. Nick's words really highlight the positive impact of the program to all involved, especially the young athletes.
Further information concerning the program and LOI requirements can be found at the following link:
Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program Letter of Intent.
Race 4 Chase Reflection
By: Nick O’Connor
On a rainy August 2nd in Watertown, over 90 kids, including 35 from the Regional YMCA were challenged to complete a triathlon. The children ran, biked, and swam in honor of Chase Kowalski, a young boy lost in the Sandy Hook Tragedy who loved to run, bike and swim. Chase also aspired to be a triathlete because to his love of athletics. The free six week program run by local YMCA’s taught the competitors the basic skills of how to complete a triathlon.
For the Regional YMCA, Jesse Rebar, Emily Lockhart, Stephanie Moss, Lynda Muir, Joe Buderwitz, and myself, Nick O’Connor helped lead these kids through a physically demanding program. Along the way, the coaches reminded the kids the true meaning of the program. The Kowalski’s designed this program so that Chase’s spirit and his dreams would live in other kids throughout Connecticut, and eventually, in kids all throughout the country. Kids at the Regional YMCA had their lives changed physically, socially, as well as emotionally.
As coaches, we were proud of the kids’ performance throughout the program and during the triathlon on the 2nd. But what impressed us most was the transformations kids made with their physical lifestyle. Several of the athletes came into our program out of shape. Now, those kids are living healthier lives. On top of the physical transformations they made, kids now know how easy and fun it is to get active, and stay in shape. As coaches, we stressed that the kids needed to have fun, so we constantly found ways to stay active, work hard, while having fun. Whether it was swim races against myself and Coach Joe, who are both Mako swimmers, or games of kickball and soccer, the kids had fun exercising. Most of the time, the kids didn’t realize that Coach Jesse snuck in lunges in every tag game to help train them.
One thing I noticed as a coach was that the emotional and social changes the kids experienced were tremendous. Most of these kids were quiet and shy who began the program knowing one or two other kids. But, as time went on, we eased the kids into breaking out of their shells, and becoming better friends with people. For example two kids, Jason Leach and Chandler Reardon, began Race 4 Chase as strangers. Slowly, they started to become acquainted with each other, and now, they are the best of friends. They call each other on the phone almost every day, and play video games together. Another success story in regards to social skills is Christopher McKensie. Chris was arguably the shyest camper we had. Chris started the program two weeks late, right as kids started to bond with each other. The other kids noticed that Chris was extremely shy, and did not know anyone when he started. Machai Henry and Akash Macha befriended him, and now they all are good friends together at Camp Greenknoll.
Race 4 Chase was a life changing experience, for 35 dedicated, passionate kids. Now, these kids will be able to walk away from Race 4 Chase having been apart of something bigger than themselves. Race 4 Chase was about honoring Chase Kowalski and his life by living and fulfilling his dream, and spreading the word to people all around the state, and eventually, the country.
"Love the Chase" Scavenger Hunt Provides a Morning of Family Fun and Adventure
On Saturday, September 6, we kicked off the first annual Love the Chase Family Scavenger Hunt. Over 20 teams participated in this event with participants as young as four (although there was a sighting of a baby carrier along the route!) Once the participants clocked in and received their first clue, they were on their way to their first venue and challenge.
Eleven venues hosted the various challenges. Contestants traveled to the Sports Center of CT, Rockin’ Jump, Home Depot of Trumbull, Lakewood/Trumbull YMCA, Discovery Zone at Webb Mountain, Great Hollow Lake featuring Leap of Faith, Mason’s Farm, Written Words in Shelton, Shelton Laundromat, and Bluefish Stadium.
At the stadium the teams were also greeted by BB, the Bluefish mascot and were sent to suite number 8 where they met Rob Dibble, a world champion major league baseball player. This was many of the teams’ favorite stop and they were THRILLED to have the chance to meet Rob and have their photo taken with him.
When the teams returned to Wolfe Park, times were calculated and the results were announced! The first place team winning $150 was the Torreso family, second place team winning $100 was the DeLeo family, and third place team winning $50 was taken by the Ganino family. In a kind gesture of support that captured the atmosphere of the event, the Torresco family donated their winnings and the DeLeo family donated half their winnings back to CMAK. They all enjoyed a delicious lunch and Italian ice.
We would like to take this time to say thank you to the many volunteers who ran the challenges at each of the venues, helped at registration, and those who helped us prepare for the big day. We would also like to thank all of the staff and employees at each of our venues. Their support and enthusiasm for the event is what made it such a huge success. We would like to express our gratitude to the following companies for their generous donations of raffle prizes: Brownstone Park, The Big E, Sport Center of CT, The Connecticut Sun Women’s Basketball Team, The Arena at Harbor Yard, The Looney family for providing a Shane Spencer signed baseball, Bridgeport Bluefish for providing a signed Tucci Lumber bat, The Corriea Family for providing a second set of Big E tickets, Leap of Faith for providing a Outback Gift Certificate, and The Beardsley Zoo. Dunkin Donuts in Monroe on Rte 111 along with Stew Leonard's provided morning snacks to kick off the start of the event.
Mr. Mac’s Canteen, Hummel Brothers and Restaurant Depot were instrumental in providing lunch for the participants, along with Pepsi Co and Big Y of Monroe. Jennie's Pizzera of Monroe provided the perfect treat with Italian Ice at the conclusion of the fun filled day. Velocity Printing, Threddies, and Hello Traveler also contributed items to enhance the event. Many companies donated coupons for the participants bags, including the Bridgeport Bluefish, Grandma Josie’s of Monroe, Hamden Yards, and Sports Center of CT. Lastly, we would like to thank all the participants for taking a day to spend with your families doing all the activities that Chase loved to do with his. Your participation helps us not only raise funds, but spread awareness and gave you a chance to explore your community. We hope that you revisit the many places you discovered during your adventure. Much love was given as well as received throughout the event by participants and volunteers alike. The Town of Monroe provided the perfect gathering place at Wolfe Park where many a happy memory was made. Plans are already taking shape for next year, so check back for the date soon!
The Second Annual Newtown Pumpkin Festival is Fast Approaching- Come Celebrate Halloween with Us!
Please come join CMAK this Columbus Day weekend (Saturday, Oct 11th, 2014) at a free festival celebrating Halloween at the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown. There will be entertainment, food, games and fun activities for the whole family including the pumpkin lighting ceremony just after dusk. CMAK will once again be a major sponsor of this event as a special way to celebrate Chase's birthday which falls on Halloween. The CMAK tent will provide games and activities for children including the pumpkin lego guessing game, raffles and our very own magician, Chris Lengyel of Freakout Entertainment. The fun will start at 3pm and run through 9:30pm with the pumpkin lighting (with new enhanced LED lights) taking place at approximately 6:30pm.
CMAK is looking for volunteers to help with supervising the children's games and other activities. Please email your interest to participate at the following link: Newtown Pumpkin Festival CMAK Volunteers.
Visit www.newtownpumpkinfestival.com for more information about the event, or follow the event on facebook at www.facebook.com/newtownpumpkinfestival,
Support CMAK through
CMAK is pleased to advised that you can support us through all your purchases on Amazon.com through the AmazonSmile program. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. CMAK is on the list of charitable organizations. Every item available for purchase on www.amazon.com is also available on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) at the same price. You will see eligible products marked "Eligible for AmazonSmile donation" on their product detail pages.
Here is easy link for direct access: AmazonSmile
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Race4Chase and Guaranteed Boston Marathon Entries:
CMAK has acquired two Boston Marathon automatic qualifying bibs through the generosity of the John Hancock Non Profit Program which requires a minimum $5,000 fundraising commitment to the recipients. We have received significant interest from potential interested runners to join our team. Erin Flanagan and Amanda Jacob will also compete for the Race4Chase team, having received entry through the normal registration process. CMAK will make a selection from potential candidates later this year. If you have interest in securing one of these bibs and seek further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race4Chase Team supports the Stephen Sillers Tunnel to Towers Foundation at the Tunnel2Tower Run in NYC
Over the summer Chris Dorko and I decided that CMAK Foundation and the Angels Army would come together and form a Race4Chase team. We would come together and raise funds for the Stephen Siller Foundation in the Tunnel 2 Towers 5k event. Last year we put a nice size team together in less than 2 weeks and raised over 1,500.00. We knew we could do better and we sure did. Our team grew by more than double and we raised our goal of $8,888.00 by the evening before the race at about 8:48pm. Once again we knew Chase was with us. I had a vision of Chase and Stephen Siller holding hands and looking down on us so proud and hearing Stephen Siller say to Chase, Wow little buddy your mom has some great people helping her make a difference, she is Amazing, and hearing Chasey say, yep that's my mom! After the race I found out that we hit $9114
I'm a numbers girl and I see signs in the numbers I missed this one and was reminded 8888 (for Chase)...9/11(4) for Stephen if that doesn't help you feel like they were together I don't know what would. Our total as of today $9239.
The day was beautiful and the event went off very well we ran with friends through the tunnel as other walked but at different points in the tunnel you could hear the chanting of USA...USA, and the crowds just cheering for America! coming through the tunnel you were hit with emotion, seeing the faces of all of the first responders that lost their lives 13 years ago and not to forget all of the precious lives lost. Seeing the sons and daughters who most likely never met their dads or moms holding on to their flags with their photos was heart breaking. A very emotional event watching people from our armed forces on crutches or in a wheel chair or with prosthetic legs participating was inspiring. We are a resilient country and taking care of these veterans and helping to build them a house that they can function in their new normal is so honorable to them and to the Stephen Siller Foundation. I am honored that we could be a small part of that to help pay it forward.
TIMEX 5k Run/Walk Celebrates the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon and CMAK
The TIMEX Group selected CMAK as their designated charity for the TIMEX 5k Run/Walk staged for their employees and family. They also invited Race4Chase to participate with the TIMEX community. It was a wonderful evening of running, pizza, raffles and camaraderie for all those involved. There were many donning their Race4chase shirts in the field and our very own Race4Chaser, Erin Flanagan, ran away with top honors on the women's side.
We would like to thank again the TIMEX Group for all the suport that they have given CMAK and the Race4Chase Kid's Triathlon Program including providing equipment and awards plus visiting of programs sites with Chris Thomas, a member of the TIMEX Multisport Team and a World Champion triathlete. A special thanks to Sam Martin and Brian Daniels from TIMEX for their dedication to our partnership.
Race4Chase Team to Meet at the Fischang-Cicchetti 5 mile and 5k Race
The next gathering of the Race4Chase team will take place at the Fischang-Cicchetti Memorial 5 Mile and 5k Races hosted by the Greater Waterbury YMCA at on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014. This will be the second year that the team will take to the streets of Waterbury to recognize CMAK's partnership with the YMCA.
More information at: Fischang-Cicchetti
Other Race4Chase Notes:
Brian Pogue successfully completed the Chattanooga Ironman on September 28th through which he carried Race4Chase Baton # 9 in Chase's honor. Brian seems to have found the ideal recipient for his baton as he advises.
"It was a great honor to carry the Race4Chase baton during the Chattanooga Ironman. I may have bucked tradition by not carrying it to the finish, but I do believe fate intervened. At mile 23 of the run, I passed it off to Greg Peck Bib #1778. He has 3 kids who are triathletes, one of his boys is a CHASE! In his training he has used Chase Kowalski's competitiveness as fuel. The baton was passed, we shook hands, and I watched it as he took off into the darkness of the north side of Chattanooga."
And Greg recounts the hand off on his Facebook page as follows:
Back in June another IMCHOO racer (Brian Pogue) posted about the Race 4 Chase Baton. He would be racing with it and would be handing it off to another like racer. Nothing was ever even barely put together for us to meet up.
Great job and congratulations, Brian and Greg! We keenly await news from Greg as what fate the Race4Chase Baton # 9 will encounter next.
In my push toward then end of my marathon last night I came upon this racer with a baton on his back. I stopped and walked with him and discussed it. As we picked up the pace it was explained to me that the baton was going to his sister unless another wanted it.
Chase Kowalski was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy and was a young triathlete.
I took the baton last night and crossed the finish line with it. Now I have to race with it and pass it off to another racer.
Anybody else touched by what this boy did at such a young age?"
Troy Pelfrey is fresh off a 20 mile training run preparing for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. He successfully completed the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon in an excellent time of 2:05 despite the humidity.
Troy shares with us his efforts in supporting CMAK. "I also wanted to give you an update about my company’s annual giving campaign. Typically every fall we get requests to donate $ for the United Way or a local company sponsored charity. This year, my employer (UnitedHealthcare) is allowing employees to select any 501c3 organization of their choice and they will match the donation dollar for dollar. Through this matching program, I will be able to give $1,000 (in bi-weekly per pay period installments) to CMAK in 2015. I’m also asking my co-workers to consider directing their giving campaign donations to CMAK." Thanks Troy....perhaps there are other companies like United Healthcare who would consider the same.
Troy is pictured with his wife, Ginny, at Registration
We wish Erin Flanagan the best of luck as she competes in the Baltimore Marathon on October 18th. This will be Erin's 6th Marathon on her quest to run a marathon in every State in Chase's honor. She will pass along Race4Chase Baton # 10 to another deserving athlete.
We ask all Race4Chase athletes to give advanced warning of competitions they are entering so that CMAK can try to alert any other Race4chasers competing at the same venue. Also forward pictures of competitions to email@example.com so they can be included in newsletters and website galleries. Any stories surrounding these activities would be greatly appreciated.
Race4Chase Baton Update
Dyan Coker complete her first of a series of races in honor of Chase by finishing the Sundae Run 5k supporting the Carmel Middle School Booster Club in Charlotte NC. She plans her next race as the Run Like A Nut Half Marathon in Florence SC on November 1st.
A big thanks to RELAYBATONS.com for donating all the Race4Chase batons for this program and also for use in our Race4Chase Kid’s Triathlon program.