CMAK Foundation Newsletter

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January 2017       

from Rebecca

Happy New Year! 

While we decided to share our holiday's with family in one of my favorite places to be...Marco Island, FL...We celebrated with Stephen's Aunt and Uncle, their children and grandchildren. I use the term celebrated loosely because no holiday is a true celebration without Chase, but, because we carry him in our hearts and we are grateful for the time we have here on earth, we will continue to celebrate with our girls and honor all that he was, and all that we have and all those who have joined us on our journey because of Chase. Holidays will never be the same but we choose to find the joy that surrounds the days until we are reunited with those we miss so dearly. Once we got home the pity party started. Back in the cold weather, no more bike riding, or flip flops. Flip flops just make me smile. So back home I feel deflated wanting our son, wanting our family whole again. Missing all of our loved ones that have passed away. Facing another year without my friends, without my brother, father and, now, my mom, wondering who will get their angel day next. Not the best of mindsets but again... I say HELLO to my GRIEF. One day, one month, another year closer to being reunited with them all. As I'm deep in my pity party, I get an email, I have to make a call regarding the Foundation. I accidentally text to a wrong number and get a pleasant, "who is this?"  Then, "You must have the wrong number, I don't know a Rebecca Kowalski." I laugh thinking you gave me this number. I check the email against my phone and I had entered the wrong number. Oops, my mistake. It made me smile...just another reason to hate January. I place my call and at the other end of the phone is this woman super excited to fully understand CMAK Foundation and how she wants to help us grow the Foundation to other states. Her excitement and our conversation jerked me out of my funk and made me realize what great stuff we are doing. We taught 107 kids how to swim last year & taught 103 kids to ride a bike and gave 49 bikes to kids who didn't have one. We have applications to add programs to two more states and to expand in South Carolina as well. Let's just say that phone call was just what I needed, not to mention a few hours later texts of rainbows and double rainbow spotting all over the place. So I may have my pity parties and January may not be my best time of year, but our boy has a special way of always turning my frown around, and making me realize it's always about the Love he  shares!
"Chasing the Music":  Save the Date!

The CMAK Foundation will stage an exciting new classical music event called “Chasing the Music”. Carter and Ilaria Brey and the Kowalski family have become close friends in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Carter has generously offered to perform a symphony with his friends and colleagues from the NY Philharmonic to benefit CMAK.  "Chasing the Music" will be performed at the Waterbury Palace Theater on Sunday, June 4th 2017.  It will feature Saint Saens “Carnival of Animals” and other movements to be chosen by Carter Brey.  It will be followed by a reception with a meet and greet with some of the performers. True to its mission to serve youth and their families, CMAK is intending to provide youth the opportunity to experience the performance through sponsorship and grants. Race4Chase programs participants, students from the Sandy Hook/Newtown school system and local Waterbury children will be some of the groups targeted for these sponsorships.  This will be a very exciting event where adults and youths alike can witness the talents of these world renowned musicians. Ticket sales will be done through the Waterbury Palace Box Office and we anticipate that they will open for sale of this performance on February 5th.  

CMAK is seeking sponsors for the event and those interested in sponsoring youth to attend the event. (Contact Kevin Grimes at  Volunteer opportunities available.
2017 Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program:

Five New Race4Chase Sites confirmed at MOU Signing ceremonies!

CMAK is proud to announce that the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program is expanding in 2017 by five sites.  CMAK has accepted the applications from the fifteen sites which operated the program in 2016, plus an additional five new sites.  Three of these sites will be an expansion of the Program in South Carolina while two sites have been selected in the State of Rhode Island.

An MOU signing ceremony took place on Thursday, January 26th at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury where CMAK confirmed its commitment to fund these programs and the program sites committed to operate the programs by the Race4Chase standards.

The twenty programs should serve upwards of 650 youth in the six week training program which culminates in a USAT-sanction FINALE triathlon.  There will be three FINALE triathlons, namely Camp Sloper Southington CT (August 5th), Upper Palmetto, Fort Mill, SC and Rhode Island (Place and Time to be determined).

The MOU ceremony at the Mattatuck Museum was a time to celebrate the success of the 15 Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program sites in 2016 and welcome to the CMAK family the programs from Rhode Island.  We thank Colleen Kelly Alexander and State Sen Tony Hwang who shared with those gathered their personal experiences with Race4Chase and the YMCA.  

Colleen and Sean Alexander (l) and Tony Hwang (r)

CMAK is very excited to welcome the Pawtucket and Newport sites which both have wonderful facilities to train their athletes and stage the FINALE.  CMAK will provide these new programs with bicycles and helmets through its partnership with Bikes for Kids from Old Saybrook, CT.

Charlie Clifford - Pawtucket YMCA            Mike Miller - Newport YMCA

All the twenty programs will have the opportunity to allow the program participants who do not own bicycles to take a bike home with them after the FINALE.  Bikes for Kids will replenish the programs with bicycles.  Everyone is looking forward to another exciting year bringing Chase's love of triathlon to so many of our youth.

On Thursday, January 19th, 2017, CMAK and the Upper Palmetto Regional YMCA celebrated its agreement to expand the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program from one to four sites with an MOU signing ceremony at center court at halftime of the Winthrop University men's basketball victory over UNC Asheville.  Rebecca Kowalski, Greg Ruel and Kevin Grimes from CMAK are pictured presenting three Race4Chase Program Site Plaques to Moe Bell, the CEO of the Upper Palmetto YMCA, just after the signing. These plaques will be prominently displayed at each of the new Race4Chase sites. Scott Sartwell of York, SC (far right) and member of the 2017 Race4Chase Boston Marathon Team organized this event with the assistance of Pat Kelsey, Winthrop's Head Basketball coach, and his staff, as a fundraiser for his Boston Marathon fundraising campaign (see Race4Chase section below).  Coach Kelsey was instrumental in bringing the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Programs to the Fort Mill area after forming a strong friendship with the Kowalski family after the tragedy.  ESPNU highlighted CMAK and this relationship in their national coverage of the game.  


Calling ALL Supporters:  VOTE CMAK Today!

January Contest Deadline Draws Near!

The Harte Auto Group, longtime supporters of CMAK, has selected the CMAK Foundation to participate in the DRIVE WITH HARTE charity campaign where the Harte Auto Group will donate $5,000 to a chosen 501c3 charity each month based upon the number of votes received in their contest.  The easy way to record your votes is to access the Harte Auto Group facebook pages below, find the Drive with Harte contest posting and put CMAK in the comment box of the post.  You can vote once per site, six votes in total!!  Votes must be made prior to Midnight on January 31st. Our efforts in October and November left us short of the mark to win. Let's make January 2017 CMAK's month!  Share this with all your facebook friends and have them vote as well!

SAVE the DATES !!!

Race4Chase Kids Community Triathlon
Sunday, July 9th, 2017
Great Hollow Lake
Monroe, CT

Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program FINALE
Saturday, August 5th, 2017
YMCA Camp Sloper
Southington, CT


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Race4Chase News


Race4Chase Boston Marathon Team 2017

Race4Chase Boston Marathon charity bib recipients selected  !!

CMAK has awarded Heather Theriault from Madison CT and Scott Sartwell from York SC the CMAK charity bibs for the 2017 Boston Marathon under the John Hancock Non-Profit Program.  Both Heather and Scott Sartwell have proven to be enthusiastic supporters of CMAK and its programs.

Heather (center) was the architect and participant of the "Chase the Coast" triathlon where she and her colleague, Chris Kopcha, completed a full Ironman distance triathlon from the southern most point of Connecticut (Byrum Beach) to Westerly Rhode Island and raised funds to support the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Programs.  Heather's daughter had such a wonderful experience with the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon program, she was inspired to give back to the program accomplishing this marvelous feat.

Scott Sartwell was introduced to the CMAK Foundation through the Race4Chase baton program where he accepted the #4 baton from  Dyan Coker and ran the Asheville Half Marathon.  Scott continued to stay in contact with the Foundation and eagerly volunteered to help with the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon programs when it was introduced to Fort Mill in 2016.  Scott hosted a BBQ for CMAK supporters at his home and was instrumental in the smooth running of the first Race4Chase FINALE in Fort Mill SC this past August.  CMAK can not think of any more deserving individuals to represent Chase at the Boston Marathon.

Heather and Scott will be having events to support their fundraising campaigns to reach their required $5,000 minimum requirement.  Scott already organized one such event as part of the Winthrop University Men's Basketball team victory against UNC Asheville.  Rebecca Kowalski joined the event to support Scott (pictured with his wife, Mary) and took the opportunity to sign an MOU agreement with Moe Bell from the Upper Palmetto YMCA at mid court at halftime to confirm four Race4Chase sites to operate in the Fort Mill area in 2017.

Please support Heather and Scott's campaign at the following online location:
2017 Race4Chase Boston Marathon Team

CMAK continues to add qualified marathoners to the team.  Our Race4Chase team captain will again be Amanda Jacob Erickson who is back to her marathoning ways after her marriage to Ryan last August.  She will be joined by John Wedding, a recent baton recipient from Louisville Ky, who has the fastest marathon time by a Race4Chase athlete (3:06:35) at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis this past October.  Amanda also competed at this marathon, her first after returning from her honeymoon.

We continue to encourage any qualified marathoners to join the team and support the cause.  There is not a deadline for qualified marathoners who want to join the Race4Chase team.  There is no minimum fundraising requirement to be part of the team if you have secured entry on your own.  Last year, the team consisted of seven runners and we hope to exceed this number for 2017.  

To join or donate to the team, click here: 2017 Race4Chase Boston Marathon Team


Sandy Hook 5k Registration Open

Join the Race4Chase team at this annual event.  Run, walk and support on the Race4Chase Team.  Sign up soonest as this event fills quickly.



Baton #5-

Molly Patterson passed the baton to her friend Amy Rich from Spring Lake, NC at the 36th Annual First Health Turkey Trot 10K in Pinehurst, NC on November 19th.  We await to hear from Amy on what her plans are for the baton.

Baton # 11-  

Ben Pleva continues to hold the Race4Chase baton in anticipation for his return to the Race4Chase Kids Community Triathlon on Sunday, July 9th, 2017 at Great Hollow Lake in Monroe.  Here are some photos of Ben with the baton on vacation last summer.  His arm is healed an he will be ready for the July Tri.

Baton #14 -  Brendan and Madeline Doyle

Gerry Duffy passed the baton to his good friend, Brendan Doyle, who has been actively involved in his many adventures as an ultra marathoner.  Brendan is an ambitious ultra-marathoner himself having ran over 40 full marathons, 5 ultra marathons- the longest 131 miles, known as "The Race," which is Ireland's toughest 24hr endurance race. He has not limited himself to running having completed 2 Ironman triathlons, also trail races and cycling races.  He lived in NY for 10 years where he started his running and has a sister in law in Stamford, CT so is familiar with the area.

Brendan's wife, Madeline, is also a runner. She completed 2 full Marathons, many half marathon, 5ks, 10ks, 10 miles and quite a few sprint triathlons.  They are both running coaches and have approx. 6/8 running classes every week. "Brendan Doyle Running"  train all types of runners from complete beginners to ultra marathoners- school children to master runners. They also organize races including the "Royal Canal Run Longford" which is an annual two day running event in April.

 Madeline and their son, Ben, will be the first to compete with the baton. They are traveling to Sydney Australia in February and will run a local race there.  Upon returning, Brendan, who is training for a double Ironman, will take the baton and compete before passing it along. 

Baton # 15-

Jeremy Lawrence advises that he is recovered from his bicycling accident and his training is on schedule to compete in the Ironman Boulder in June 2017.

Baton # 16-

Ross Anderson advised that he will be running the Hyannis Marathon on February 26th, 2017 with the baton.

Baton # 18-

Erin Flanagan has passed the baton from the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis to former baton holder David Brown who will hike the Appalachian Trail starting in March.

Baton # 19-

Erin Flanagan completed her 17th State in her quest to complete a marathon in every State for Chase by completing the Charleston Marathon in Charleston, SC.  She experienced one of her most difficult marathons (3:54:01), suffering from dehydration on a hot and sunny January day.  During her stay, she met Paul Hallenbeck from Woodbridge Virginia and discussed her story and the baton and thereafter passing the baton to Paul. We await to see what plans Paul has for the baton.

Next up for Erin: #18- Mesa-Phoenix Marathon, Phoenix Arizona, February 25th, 2017


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


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