CMAK Foundation Newsletter
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    June 2016            

from Rebecca

"Airport moment", that's what I'm going to call it when a Race4Chase Kids Tri Program athlete meets a Race4Chase fundraising athlete. It's the fundraising athlete who helps the CMAK Foundation keep this program's momentum going strong. The R4C Tri Program started with three locations the first year (2014), then eight next and this year a total of fifteen, 14 in CT and one in South Carolina. With the growth of the programs and with our fundraising athletes all over the country, it's bound to start happening more often. I shared with you the "original airport moment" in a FL airport between RJ Magas and his family and Brian Mora. We have had our second "airport moment," but this time it's closer to home in a school in Madison CT. 

Our great friend Joanna Flanagan, mother of Erin Flanagan who is running a marathon in every state for Chase, met Luke at the Robert H. Brown Middle School and began to chat about the Race4Chase program and how much it has made a difference in their lives. This discussion led to an email exchange with Luke's Mom, Meghan Lerner, whose comments on the Race4Chase Program I share with you here.
"Wow...first what an amazing daughter (Erin) you have! The powerful and inspirational work she is doing completely made my day! Please send me information on how we as a family can support her efforts.
I am so happy you reached out to my son Luke and to me. We first became involved with Race4Chase last summer. I am a part of the Tri Club at Valley Shore Y and began my love affair with triathlons just last summer. As a result, I found out about Race4Chase. My three older children participated and I volunteered on a regular basis. This year, my oldest son, Isaac, will be a "junior coach" helping three times a week and I too will be regularly helping out.  It was a powerful experience for all of us on so many levels. Luke in particular (the one you met) really was touched and was so grateful to have a moment with Mrs. Kowalski during the Tri last summer. "

Thanks for the comments, Meghan!  Airport moments really make my day!
2016 Race4Chase Youth Triathlon Program:

Bikes start to flow to the programs from Bikes for Kids Foundation

The first shipment of sixty bikes was delivered from the Bikes for Kids warehouse in Old Saybrook to be distributed to the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Programs across the State of Connecticut.  CMAK thanks Bikes for Kids for their support which will allow any youths in the Program without their own bicycles to take a bike home with them at the conclusion of the Program.  An additional thanks goes to Tile America of New Haven for providing a driver and truck to help with the transport and also the team at Bikes for Kids and the Waterbury YMCA for helping in loading and unloading the bikes on a hot June afternoon.

Race4Chase South Carolina Ready to Swim, Bike, Run !!!!

The first Race4Chase Kids Triathlon program outside of Connecticut received their bikes, helmets, goggles and Race4Chase shirts personally delivered by Rebecca Kowalski this past week.  Representatives from the Upper Palmetto YMCA including Moe Bell, CEO, Rommel RitaRita, Branch Director, Erika Bell, Marketing Director, and Travis Gilbert, Race4Chase Coordinator, were on hand to receive the equipment at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center where the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program will commence on June 20th. Pat Kelsey, Head Coach of the Winthrop University Basketball Program and facilitator in bringing the Race4Chase Program to Rock Hill SC also helped with the transfer of equipment.  CMAK looks forward to the USAT-sanctioned Race4Chase Finale that will be staged locally on August 2nd, hoping to crown 35 new Race4Chase triathletes!

Please view the following TV coverage at the Aquatics Center: Race4Chase CN-2 Coverage

Today Show with Natalie Morales to Feature Rebecca Kowalski

Interview in Central Park to be aired on JUNE 28th

Friends at the Today Show and Fleet Feet

Fleet Feet honors Rebecca Kowalski this week as the first ever recipient of the Customer Inspiration Award at their National Franchise Conference in Huntington Beach, CA. Rebecca will address those in attendance at the 40th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on June 23rd.

Rebecca Kowalski was introduced to the conference participants by CEO, Jeff Phillips, at the Fleet Feet Opening Session. (pictured above)

Birthday 2 Birthday Challenge 2016- UPDATE

Many participants are making good progress on achieving the 1100 mile goal for the 2nd Annual Birthday 2 Birthday Challenge. Jim Pallock and Brian Pogue have already reach goal with many others closing in on the target.

Currently we have over 30 athletes officially participating including 20 raising funds for the Race4Chase Kids Tri program at the Riverside Regional YMCA (Wilton/Norwalk) and more than 7000 miles completed.  

Remember that although this challenge focuses on bicycling, participants can meet the challenge through running, swimming, walking or all the above if they log the equivalent number of hours in training of riding 1100 miles up until Chase's 11th birthday, October 31st, 2016.  (1 mile swimming = 5 mile running = 12 mile biking)


Race4Chase Kids Community Triathlon:

Sunday, JULY 10th, 2016    !!!

3rd Annual
Race4Chase Kids Triathlon
Wolfe Park, Great Hollow Lake
Monroe, CT
Kids 6-12 yrs old

2015 Video

The Race4Chase Kids Community Triathlon has now opened registration. The Kids Triathlon will have a field limited to 230 contestants filled on a first come, first serve basis.  Therefore, please take the opportunity to sign up early to assure your place in the field.  For more information about this event and the other events organized by the CMAK Foundation, please refer to the Events Page on our website.

 Access Volunteer Opportunities: VOLUNTEERS
Thank You for a Crazy8Ride to Remember!

The 3rd Annual Crazy8 Ride4Chase brought many CMAK supporters together to participate in the motorcycle rally starting at Molto Bene Restaurant in Ansonia, CT. The cyclists embarked on a tour of various host sites where they collected playing cards.  The playing cards were used to determine the prizes at the end of the ride.  After the rally, the group relaxed at the restaurant enjoying the fare provided and listening to the music of The ROCKBOX.  CMAK is fortunate to have so many strong supporters participate in organizing the event and many sponsors to support it.

Thank you from the Kowalskis:

The general thank you that was given on Sunday was so inadequate and there is no excuse for it. This is what was in my heart but didn’t get said.  We are extremely grateful to Chris and Nancy Portolese, Michele Orzechowski, Greg Gnandt, his fiance Peggy, Jim and Debbie Pallock, Jennifer Heitzke, Bonnie Lambert,  Molto Bene their staff Rob and Josh, Kat the bartender, and The Rockbox  and all of our other volunteers (just to name a few: Brian Portolese, Justin Hafele, Gina Corriea, Susan Smey, Christine Smey, Joseph & JoJo Perun, Barbara Ferrigno, Juli and Jacob Soracin) for all of their hard work pulling together our 3rd Annual Ride4Chase.


We were blessed with a beautiful day to share with our friends, new and old.

We would also like to thank Father Victor Martin of St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Fairfield for his personable blessing and remembrance of Chase though they never met it person. He must have heard God's  whispers letting him know that Chase and his friends are a bit of a handful and drive God a little crazy. What else would you expect from little Angels.

We are most grateful for the four Site Sponsors and the Volunteers that ran each location.

Stop #1: Rt. 34 Stevenson Duncan Donuts


with Nancy Portoleese Christopher & Karen Yitts, Kelly Wohlfarth, Susan and Christine Smey

Stop #2: Hawleyville Deli, (@hawleyvilledeli)


with Chris Portoleese, Jacob Soracin, Juli Soracin, Laureen  Filomena, AnnMarie Perkins

Stop #3: Roxbury Garage,
( @M&DRoxburyGarage)


With Rob Orzechowski, Kaley and Billy Kempf

Stop #4: Schribers Farm, (@schreibers)


With Jenny Perrelli and Marie Delvecchio

This ride wouldn't have been organized so well without everyone’s hard work and dedication. Thank you to the Site sponsors The Body's Wisdom (@, In Remembrance of Chase, Christina Van de Weerdt & Nicole Gervais and CLM landscape (@clmlandscaping).

Thank you to our Mileage Marker Sponsors: Right click, Like Magic, John Delfino of Park City Insurance, Total Mortgage, Hamden Yards, Iron Factory Gym, Mullet, The Rockbox, White Hills Tree Removal and Simion.

We’d like to say a very special thank you to all of the businesses that donated gift cards and in kind donations to make our raffle prized so fabulous. Please take the time to stop by their local places of business and support each one when you are in their area. Jones Family Farm Winery (Monroe), The Hops Company (Monroe), Veracious Brewery (Monroe), Glen-Ro Spirit Shop (Monroe), Porky's Café (Shelton), Center Street Social (Shelton), Dew Drop Inn (Derby), Bricks and Barley Tavern (Shelton), The Mason Jar (Monroe), The Salon Le`a Lauren (Wilton), Meineke Car Care (Monroe), American Stone & Design (Shelton), Thayer’s Natural Remedies ( and Connecticut Distributors. Please be sure to stop by their websites and "Like" their Facebook pages!

Special Thanks to personal donors:

Kathy & Joe Camputaro

Sam & Patti Portolese,

Connoisseur  Media

and the photographer, Tony Croce

We look forward to this ride every year and, this year, it was even more special as both of our daughters were able to ride with us. We'd like to thank Uncle Bob and Uncle Keith for driving Brittany and Erin this year. It was so amazing to be able to participate in this event with our daughters.


Our friend, Rob Dibble, also enjoyed the ride with us and if you take a closer look, you will see a surprise appearance by Chase!

Until next year!  

Drive Safe and Ride4Chase!

All our best,
Rebecca and Steve

Chase Kowalski Memorial Golf Tournament

Date Revised:  AUGUST 13th, 2016

Registration Click Here

Virtual Option Added:

This year, we've added an exciting Virtual option for those who are unable to attend the tournament, but who want to participate in the fun and support CMAK.  Register a four-player team for $25 per person, play golf at the course of your choosing any time before 08/13, and send a picture of your foursome enjoying their round to​.  Teams will be entered into an exclusive drawing for virtual players only that will take place on the day of the tournament.  Each member of the selected team will win an exciting gift from CMAK.


You can support CMAK through all your purchases on  

Here is easy link for direct access:  AmazonSmile

Amazon and the Amazon logo and AmazonSmile and the AmazonSmile logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.

Race4Chase News

"Chase the Coast" Triathlon

Traversing the Coastline of Nutmeg State for Race4Chase

In an exciting new development for CMAK inspired by Chase and the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program, experienced triathletes, Heather Theriault and Christine Kopcha, will be embarking on a quest to complete a triathlon on Saturday, July 23, 2016 from the southern most point of Connecticut to the Rhode Island border along the coastline.  The non competitive triathlon will begin at the Byram Park Marina in Greenwich CT with a 2 mile swim to the Indian Harbor Yacht Club on Steamboat Road then transition to the 110 mile cycle and proceed up the Connecticut coast to Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, then continue on foot for a marathon distance to finish at Wilcox Park in Westerly, RI.

"Chase the Coast" Triathlon is the vision of Heather Theriault, mother, fitness instructor and triathlete, who was inspired by Chase and the impact that the Race4Chase Triathlon Program had on her daughter at the Westbrook site in 2015. She was so impressed by the positive result on her daughter  (daughters Lily and Avary pictured left) from the free six week triathlon training program and the success at the program's FINALE triathlon at YMCA Camp Sloper in Southington CT that she wanted to do something to support and expand the program so more children could experience the same.  As a CT resident and experience triathlete, completing multiple Ironman competitions, Heather and fellow triathlete, Christine Kopcha, approached CMAK to create a fundraiser around an endurance triathlon that would span the entire Connecticut coastline and in this way raise money and awareness of the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program.

For more details, see CHASE the COAST.

Rebecca, Heather, Chris and Kevin Grimes at the starting point of "Chase the Coast"

You can support their effort through donation, sponsorship or volunteering on the day of the triathlon.


Race4Chase and Rev3 Quassy: 

CMAK thanks all of our volunteers who came out to help stage the Rev 3 Triathlon races and cheer on our athletes.  The Olympic Race on Saturday was close to perfect weather after the fog lifted with reasonable water and air temperatures. Our athletes, Brian Pogue, John Williams and Kevin Grimes, all improved their performances from previous years with Brian and Kevin finishing high enough to qualify for the USA Triathlon National Championships in their Age Group in August.

The weather was not as cooperative on the Half Distance with rains and turbulent weather making a very difficult course even more challenging.  Chris Kost, preparing for the Lake Placid Ironman, and Chris Kopcha, preparing for Chase the Coast (see above) persevered through the finish.

John and Joanne Williams, Brian Pogue and Kevin Grimes enjoy some post race refueling with the Kowalski family.

Half Ironman Distance (Sunday, June 5th):

Christine Kopcha, Old Saybrook CT: 8:08:18
Cathy Kost, Sandy Hook CT:              7:29:39

Olympic Distance (Saturday, June 4th):

Brian Pogue, St Charles MO              2:48:52
Kevin Grimes, Sandy Hook CT          2:45:56
John Williams, West Hartford CT      3:56:03

Sprint for Monroe
Sunday, June 5th, 2016

The weather was holding out on that questionable Sunday morning and we still had a nice crowd for the 23rd Annual Sprint for Monroe and Race4Chase Fun Run. The young athletes took off first with the usual enthusiasm in the Race4Chase Fun Run.

In the 5k that followed, it was a banner day for coach Heidi Lagan as she received the top women's prize that she and son, Jaden, donated back to the CMAK Foundation. We had a lot of friends join us and many even placed in their age groups. We would like to recognize Chase's friend from Kiddy Campus Preschool Kasper Murzinska in his 1st place finish and also to Jaden Buchetto for his 2nd place finish. Olivia Lieby had her best finish for a 5k with a PR of 29:50.06.  We also got to run with Brian Pogue who came for the Rev3 Olympic Triathlon at Quassy and the Sprint for Monroe all the way from Missouri.

Encon workers were representing Race4Chase at the Sprint for Monroe family style with Greg and Matt Kazmarcsyk with wives and children making it lots of family fun as well as Dave Kudej and his son, Dave, who had a fantastic finish. Rounding out the group was Erin and Rebecca Kowalski who finished not in record time but with great effort.

Also we would like to wish Amy Primorac, the Sprint for Monroe Race Director and Super Duper CMAK Supporter, a speedy recovery from her fractured hip.  Your presence on race day was sorely missed, but, all of your preparation work made the event a complete success, especially the Race4Chase Kids Fun Run, the highlight of everyone's morning.


Race4Chase Triathletes Continue to Compete for Chase Post- Program

Olivia Lieby, a graduate of the 2015 Trumbull Race4Chase triathlon program, competed in her first triathlon of the season at the Stamford Kik It Triathlon. With chilly water temperatures and fighting a cold, Liv managed do her best as she raced for Chase in her newly decorated tri suit.

We share with you Liv's thoughtful words on her experience with Race4Chase:

    "Inspiration.  Heart.  Freedom.  Hope.  These are four words I use to describe Race4Chase.  The program taught me how to run properly, and I’ve been running races ever since.  It took heart to keep going, even when I thought my legs would fall off.  Freedom ran through my veins when I was no longer reined in and could go as fast as I wanted.  The races bring hope to families of the children.  Each and every day that I showed up for training, I was greeted with beaming smiles and words of encouragement, especially from my coach, Heidi.  In return, I gave the same to my coaches and the other triathletes.  The R4C program not only trained me to run triathlons, but to have confidence in myself and inspired me to continue doing more races and that I could break my personal records in my 5ks.

    When my family arrived to drop me off at Race4Chase on the first day, I only knew one person: my friend Izzy.  I was shy and afraid of talking to other people.  But soon through the activities and exercises, I quickly made some new friends.  One of those new friends soon became a best friend and training buddy.  Tori and I stuck together during training when we could, and weren’t far apart when we couldn’t.  As we trained, I started talking to other people on my team and was soon friends with almost everyone.  Training lasted six weeks and consisted of swimming, biking, and running.  It seemed too soon when training was over and race day arrived.  Butterflies fluttered in everyone’s stomachs, but flew away as soon as the race began.  Water flew, wheels spun, and footsteps thumped as each athlete, including me, did their best … but I knew I could do better and began to work towards a new PR.

    Two weeks later, I was back in the water and waiting for the horn to blow and two weeks after that again I jumped right back in.  Two ToughKids Triathlon finisher’s medals now hang on my wall with my two Race4Chase medals.  But I didn’t stop at there; in addition to the triathlons I found 5Ks to race.  I kept going, and going, and going.  Soon my bedroom wall was plastered with bibs and medals from my triathlons and 5ks.  But I didn’t stop.  I continued going!  But the weather became too cold for swimming and I had to stop, but then I wanted to keep running.

    With Coach Heidi’s help, I was able to do the Sunset Run, Pumpkin Run, a home version of the Turkey Trot that we called the Gobble Wobble, and the Jingle Bell Run.  And when the warm weather returned, I immediately jumped into the Cheshire 5K which I ran with my aunt; the Sandy Hook 5k with my R4C friends, and then after starting training again, the Sprint for Monroe where I finally had a PR of 29:50 (almost two full minutes off my previous times!).  I’ve also completed my first triathlon this year, the KIC-IT Triathlon in Stamford to benefit Kids in Crisis.  Not my best one, but the cold waters of the Long Island Sound and my own cold couldn’t stop me from finishing and having fun.  Now I can’t wait to start training again at Race4Chase this summer and see where it will take me next. "

Parents, Coaches and, of course, Chase are all proud of you! 

6 to 6 Magnet School Tri Club Races 4 Chase

Lauren Wiggins was thrilled when she received the call. Her dream of an amazing triathlon finale would come to fruition on June 9th. Lauren sent an email to CMAK to let us know how she had been training seventeen 2nd and 3rd graders at the 6 to 6 Magnet School in Bridgeport, CT since April in honor of Chase with the help of a $5,000.00 grant from the Cooperative Educational Services Mini Grant Foundation.  She just wanted to let us know and asked if we were available to come and watch the event. We surprised her and offered to help stage this memorable event. The CMAK Foundation donated some of our past event shirts and Drew Designs added the Tri Club 2016 logo on the sleeve. All of the finishers received a Race4Chase dogtag and complimentary water and snacks.

Mikaela, one of the successful triathletes now has her very own bike and helmet through the CMAK Foundation partnership with Bikes for Kids so she can keep practicing the skills Coach Lauren has taught her.

The event was a huge success and everyone was thrilled, but the real excitement happened the following weekend, as Lauren placed fourth in her age group at in the Escape the Cape Triathlon in Cape May, NJ. taking fourth place amongst the women.

and at the finish line she got the coolest bling a girl could ever dream: an engagement ring!

Congratulations Lauren and Aaron!  

Well done!


Race4Chasers Target New Challenges in Chase's Memory

It looks like Deena Ali's conquest of the Louisville Ironman in Chase's honor last October was just the starting point.  She has advised that her next challenge will be the Georgia Sky to Summit 50k trail run in Sky Valley, Georgia on November 5th, 2016.  She will begin her fundraising campaign shortly on the CMAK FirstGiving site.

"Chasing Inspiration" poet and 2016 B2B Challenge participant, Valerie Walsh, is determined to bring to its knees the Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb in Chase's honor this coming August 20th.  To date, her training has consisted of 250 miles of biking with over 20,0000 feet elevation change. The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is known as the toughest hillclimbs in the world at 7.6 miles in length, has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and the last 50 yards is an amazing 22%! We wish her the best in literally climbing this mountain.

Race4Chase Boston Marathon Team member shared with us her recent encounter while running a 5k while on vacation.

"Hey, wanted to let you know that I raced a 5K for Chase in Delaware.  I was the 2nd woman overall. Your little guy made sure I made a connection with him even at a vacation 5K. I wore my Race4Chase singlet and had a little boy (9 years old) and his dad come up to me after the race and tell me that he wants to do a triathlon and be like Chase. He had asked his dad why I had a little boy on my shirt and his parents knew Chase's story. I thought it was cool and it made me even more proud to race for your guy!"

A big thanks to for donating all the Race4Chase batons for this program and also for use in our Race4Chase Kid’s Triathlon program. 

Copyright © 2016 CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation, All rights reserved.
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