By Desirée Keegan
Runners gathered to honor a local leader and mentor, while raising funds in support of Miller Place athletics.
The 21st annual Joe Keany 5K and 1-mile runs commenced June 3, with North Shore runners grabbing first-place finishes while paying homage to a former Miller Place track runner.
“Joe Keany would go and mow the lawn and go around the neighborhood looking to do chores and do you know what he did with the money? He rode his bike down to the Smith Haven Mall and donated it to the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon,” said Jackie Rose, the event’s organizer and emcee. The telethon raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “We’re running for good character, we’re running for acts of kindness.”
Rose added that when Keany was in college, he and a friend rode their bikes from Cortland to California and back, donating the money made in support of his endeavor to charity.
“In his honor, the track team and the school decided to start this race,” Rose said. She said Keany was a captain of Miller Place’s track team, and garnered a myriad of accolades.
Over 400 runners registered for the races, and the money raised will benefit the Miller Place Athletic Booster Club, which funds the senior awards dinner and four scholarships.
Last year, the event raised around $7,500, according to booster club president Steve Liantonio. This year, Rose said, the booster club has far surpassed that, raising close to $10,000.
“We couldn’t do it without the local businesses who get involved and support us,” the six-year president said.
Rocky Point resident Scarlett Stevenson, who ran with her dad Brett, was the winner of the 1-mile run.
“I really love racing, and since I’m doing it with my dad, it’s a really fun experience,” the 11-year-old said. “I love running. I always run at school.”
First across the 5K finish line was Wading River’s Keith Steinbrecher, who finished in 17 minutes, 16.65 seconds.
The Shoreham-Wading River graduate also competed in 2009 and 2010, and is a currently a senior at Merrimack College. He said he enjoys the course — especially the hill on Cedar Drive — and the Miller Place atmosphere.
“It’s a good crowd,” he said. “I enjoy coming out to support the local community.”
Shoreham’s Connor McAlary, a senior on the cross-country team at Quinnipiac University, said he trains daily, and looks forward to the event. He finished right behind Steinbrecher in 17:16.67.
Senior Brendon Murphy and freshman Danelle Rose were the male and female recipients of the Joe Keany Cup, given to the Miller Place student or alumni that finishes first.
“We have repeat runners young and old,” Rose said. “It’s nice to see.”
Rose was also the first female to cross the finish line last year, and subsequently, was the Joe Keany Cup winner then too. The two are current varsity track and field and cross-country athletes.
“It’s our mission to instill that charitable kindness into the students of Miller Place and surrounding areas,” Rose said. “We hope they go out and follow in the footsteps of Joe Keany.”
Bill Landon contributed reporting