Tags Posts tagged with "Marathon"

Marathon

Frankie Anzaldi runs in the NYC Half Marathon March 17. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Sr.

Since he was very young, limits were placed on Frankie Anzaldi, a 16-year-old Rocky Point High School student. When he was in kindergarten, doctors said Anzaldi would never be able to tie his own shoes, but each time he was told he couldn’t do something he has consistently proved the doubters wrong, all despite his epilepsy and seizures. 

Anzaldi has no limits, and he’s ambitious — always looking for the next goal to tackle. With that attitude, he has become an accomplished trombone player and on this past St. Patrick’s Day March 17 he participated in the New York City Half Marathon representing Athletes Without Limits, an organization supporting athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Frankie Anzaldi runs with his friend and trombone tutor Michel Nadeau. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Sr.

Frankie’s journey to the NYC Half Marathon began simple enough, with a visit to the Stony Brook men’s soccer team after he was named its honorary captain three years ago. It was his interactions with the team in the gym, working out with them, that helped spur his decision to start running. 

“I never thought it would be running,”
Anzaldi’s mother Michelle said. “Out of the blue he said he wanted to go running — so we brought him to the track.”

The 16-year-old’s mother said when they first brought him to the track in July 2016, her son could barely run a mile. But the persistent teenager kept at it, and later decided he wanted to run a race. 

“We found a fun race, a 1K. He did the race and he loved it,” his mother said. 

For that race, Anzaldi ran for the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Track Team. Three months later, he became a member of the team and represented it at the Suffolk County Half Marathon. 

The co-founder of Athletes Without Limits, Barry Holman, happened to be at the race and met the Anzaldi family. The teenager saw one of the organization’s slogan of “No limits” and he adopted it  as his own and has since lived by it. Many of his posts on Instagram, a social media platform, feature the hashtag, #nolimits.  

Frank Anzaldi, the runner’s father, marveled at the progression his son has made in a short amount of time.  

“He just worked at it — went from barely running one mile to thirteen miles,” Anzaldi’s father said.  

The NYC Half Marathon was his fifth half marathon in three years, and despite how long he’s been at it, Anzaldi is still out on the track every week training. 

“Training was really intense — he was running close to 40 miles a week,” he said. 

Frankie Anzaldi after receiving medal in NYC Half Marathon. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Sr.

In training for his first NYC Half Marathon, Anzaldi received virtual coaching from the Badger Track Club, a club based in Madison, Wisconsin, whose main focus is to teach, train and educate athletes in track and field, cross country and road racing.  

“He’s was being virtually coached by Scott Brinen; he’s worked with special needs athletes before,” his father said. “I was put in touch with them through Athletes Without Limits.”

The young man told them he wanted to run another half marathon and his improve his run time, and soon the club helped Anzaldi with a workout plan which included speed and distance training as well as working out in the gym. According to young Anzaldi, it got him in the best shape he’s ever been. 

At the marathon, Anzaldi was joined by his longtime trombone tutor and friend, Michel Nadeau, who is a music teacher in the Commack School District, who just so happened to be a runner himself. 

Nadeau met him five years ago when the Anzaldis were looking for a trombone tutor for their son. The family called Nadeau a godsend, as he helped the teenager learn how to play the trombone by modifying music notes so he could read them. Nadeau taught their son how to read music even before he could read a book. 

“Two years ago, Frankie started running and [his parents] didn’t know I was a runner as well, so it was kind of cool,” Nadeau said.   

Because of Anzaldi, Nadeau was motivated to run in the Suffolk Half Marathon two years ago and ran it again with him this past November. Nadeau also trained with Anzaldi for his fifth half marathon. Training sessions consisted of running for eight miles, three times a week, according to the music teacher. 

“Frankie doesn’t say no to anything, and he’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve met in my life,” Nadeau said. “It’s been really fun working and running with someone that has no quit in them.”

A little more than a month before the race, Anzaldi’s father received a call from Athletes Without Limits asking if the 16-year-old could represent the national team at the marathon. The teenager said absolutely, and he was excited for the race to run past NYU Hospital where his doctors and surgeons work. He would also be running past the windows of other patients he knew personally and was excited to show them what he has accomplished. 

Frankie Anzaldi and his friend and trombone teacher Michel Nadeau after receiving medal in NYC Half Marathon. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Sr.

With five half marathons under his belt, the freshman in high school has already expressed his desire to do more. One of his goals is to represent the United States in an international competition. 

A first chair trombone player in middle school last year and a member of the high school marching band, Anzaldi also has dreams of being a trombone player in the Disney Marching Band. According to his mother, that is the ultimate job he wants in life. 

“It started from the get-go that limits were placed on him, and every time someone says he can’t do something, he proves them wrong,” the teenager’s mother said. 

Anzaldi’s father agreed, saying even if someone has a disability, you shouldn’t limit them. When someone believes in them great things can happen.

“They said he was never going to be able to tie his shoes and now he is tying them and running marathons,” he said.

Photos from United Way of Long Island Across, Steve Kostoff, Deena Menendez, Kathy Wagner and Erick Rosales will compete with five other members of Team Mission United, to raise money for veterans. Photos from United Way of Long Island

By Desirée Keegan

Four North Shore runners have joined Team Mission United, competing for the charity United Way of Long Island during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

Steve Kostoff, Erick Rosales, Kathy Wagner and Deena Menendez will team up with five other athletes for the 26.2-mile race, which will take place on Nov. 6 and benefit 135,000 veterans and military families on Long Island.

Kostoff, who lives in Mount Sinai, said as soon as he found out Mission United was the program he would be running for, he went to the organization’s website to learn about its works, which focus on employment services, education, financial services, health and housing support.

“Many of these men and women went overseas to fight for us, now they have to come back and in many cases fight for themselves to receive care,” he said. “Any way I can help to raise funds or get the word out is important.”

“It’s a great opportunity to give back and do my part for veterans — they have sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.”

— Erick Rosales

Kostoff works for Suffolk Bus Corp. as an ADA bus driver. Through his job he’s supported United Way of Long Island over the years, and has come to hear many stories of veterans and their special needs, as he often transports disabled veterans to Northport VA Medical Center for appointments.

John Corrado, president of Suffolk Transportation Service and past president of United Way of Long Island’s board of directors, is pleased to support Kostoff in his efforts as he runs his first full marathon.

“To have the chance to see an exemplary employee like Steve compete is truly inspiring,” he said. “Not only will be have our organization’s support, but I am certain that his colleagues will rally around him on his journey to the finish line.”

Rosales, of Coram, a UPS driver, is also eager to compete. He said he’s been training for the marathon for a long time and has previously competed in 10 others, including the NYC Marathon which he’s raced in three times.

“It’s a great opportunity to give back and do my part for veterans — they have sacrificed so much to give us our freedom,” he said. “We should honor all veterans whenever we have the chance. Compared to what they have done for us the effort by me is just a drop in the bucket. I’m in 100 percent.”

Rosales will be joined in the race by his good friend, fellow colleague and training partner, Bill Ude.

Wagner, of Huntington, is meeting the challenge with great enthusiasm.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” she said of choosing to be a part of the race. “I never thought I’d run in the NYC Marathon because it’s really difficult to get in to, but when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t say no.”

Wagner, generalist manager for the Long Island Region of Enterprise Holdings, is the leader of the Enterprise United Way of Long Island campaign which she’s been running since 2008, so she’s a big cheerleader and supporter for the cause. She said she feels Mission United is a vital program to assist veterans.

“Training is a part-time job and it’s nothing compared to what these men and women have done for our country. This will help with the needs of our veterans returning home.”

—Deena Menendez

“This is a huge race supporting a huge cause … I’m really excited for it,” she said, adding that she has a lot of family members who are veterans, including her grandfather, three uncles and a couple of cousins whom she’s close with. “I know the struggles they’ve had returning after they’ve served, and I think that any organization that’s there to help that process and help them acclimate back into society is totally worthwhile and totally worth raising money for.”

Wagner has competed in both 5K and 10K events, half marathons, mud runs and warrior dashes. Her boss, Eric Schonhoff, Enterprise’s regional vice president who has also been supportive of United Way of Long Island and serves on the board of directors, is inspired by Wagner’s efforts.

“Not only is it great to back a seasoned runner like Kathy, but she also deserves accolades for putting her heart and soul behind Mission United and the entire campaign,” he said.

Menendez, of Hauppauge, who is a claims adjuster for Geico in Woodbury, is running for Team Mission United as a labor for love, as she too is surrounded by family members in the military. Her husband is an Air Force veteran; her eldest son Sean is in the Coast Guard serving in Astoria, Oregon; her middle son Scott served in the Army; and her youngest son, Shane, is a Marine in San Diego, California.

She began intense training for the marathon and was approached by a past supervisor about volunteering to become a participant for the team, and was delighted to accept.

“It’s an honor for me just to be in the run,” Menendez said. “I keep my family in my thoughts to motivate me. Training is a part-time job and it’s nothing compared to what these men and women have done for our country. This will help with the needs of our veterans returning home. They face so many challenges acclimating to civilian life after military life, so Team Mission United helps them get homes and jobs, and raising money will help benefit so many more veterans.”

Participants have set a goal of raising $20,000 for United Way of Long Island’s veterans programs, and are looking for support. To learn more about the team and its efforts, visit www.unitedwayli.org/team-mission-united-supports-long-island-veterans.

by -
0 2336
Alex Eletto crosses the finish line at the Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint. Photo by Mike Polansky

By Joseph Wolkin

Alex Eletto has been running since he was in the seventh grade, and the speed within him only increased with age.

Eletto, now 19, graduated from Ward Melville High School in 2015. Competing on the track and field team throughout his high school career, the Stony Brook-native consistently worked on improving his form.

Come Aug. 10’s annual Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint put on by the Greater Long Island Running Club, Eletto appeared as if he were the Energizer bunny. That Saturday was different than any other for him. Running the 5K course at Sands Point, he roared across the finish line in 18 minutes, four seconds for a first-place finish.

“It was pretty cool,” Eletto said of winning. “I just love running. It was really special for me to win that race.”

Eletto defeated veteran runner Keith Guilfoyle from Commack by four seconds, followed by 15-year-old Jake Meyers of Plainview.

Eletto is focused on completing the race while competing with the Northport Running Club. Photo by Tina Eletto
Eletto is focused on completing the race while competing with the Northport Running Club. Photo by Tina Eletto

“It was awesome to see him win — I saw the look on his face as he was coming to the finish line,” his mother Tina Eletto said. “I think he knew he had it. Somebody was on his tail, but he was not letting up and he was pushing through. As a mom, it’s great to see that.”

Among the 271 runners in the event, Eletto stood out by making it look like he was taking a casual weekend jog. According to one of his coaches from Ward Melville, Brian Schoen, Eletto is “doing really well” after graduating.

“Alex was very focused, determined and a very hard worker,” he said of his former athlete’s high school career. “The distance guys, because they put in so much time and effort, are an extremely tight-knit group. He did an amazing job when he was with us, and Alex has wonderfully represented Ward Melville in every way. He certainly did himself proud.”

In high school, Eletto’s best result was a third-place finish in his senior year during the St. Anthony’s Invitational in May 2015, when he set a personal record of 4:45.10 in the 1,600-meter run.

“He really developed in the 11th and 12th grade,” his mother said. “After he graduated high school, he started on a team called Rolling Thunder. From there, he is now working with coach Mitch Felced. He is running with the Greater Long Island Running Club.”

Entering this latest event, Eletto never expected to earn the victory. It’s his second first-place finish; the first coming in the Heart and Sole 5K in Plainview.

But what makes Eletto’s victory so special for his family is how he got there.

The athlete is on the autism spectrum. While it is not severe, his mother noticed he acted differently compared to others when he was a toddler, and he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, the most common form of autism, at 5 years old.

“He’s definitely an athlete, and he’s very into staying in shape and eating correctly. He just has such a great passion for the sport.”
— Tina Eletto

“He is very high functioning,” Tina Eletto said. “He has a driver’s license and has his own car. He’s such a nice person that it never really affected him during school with his peers because he was always involved in sports and he was always really friendly, and everybody was the same back.”

The disability has ended up being one that has pushed him to succeed, whether it’s in the classroom or on the field.

“He works through everything,” she said. “His perseverance and determination are so strong that he bought his own car. He worked at Stop & Shop and at a bagel store; so it doesn’t really affect him too much.”

Training during the late evening in the summer, Eletto is constantly focused on improving his skills.

“It’s a great feeling,” Alex Eletto said of being able to overcome his disability to excel in the sport he cares so much about.

Eletto is now preparing for his next venture, as he begins an internship at a nursing home in Medford, working behind the scenes.

“He loves running races,” his mother said. “He’s definitely an athlete, and he’s very into staying in shape and eating correctly. He just has such a great passion for the sport.”

by -
0 1224
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone makes his way down the marathon route in a previous running event held in the county. Photo from Bellone’s office

By Steve Bellone

Suffolk County is home to more than 90,000 veterans, the largest population of veterans in any county in New York State. They have selflessly served their country, in war and in times of peace, making sacrifices to ensure our safety and protect our way of life.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone makes his way down the marathon route in a previous running event held in the county. Photo from Bellone’s office
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone makes his way down the marathon route in a previous running event held in the county. Photo from Bellone’s office

We all have a duty to make sure that veterans are not overlooked when they return to civilian life. Too often, veterans return home from service in need of our assistance and recognition for a job well done.

I am proud that the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency and our many local veterans organizations work tirelessly to meet the needs of veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, lack of quality housing and job assistance. No veteran should have to fight another battle to receive needed services and adjust to civilian life.

The fact is, there is so much more we need to do to support our veterans. That is why I helped organize the first ever Suffolk County Marathon and Half Marathon to Support Our Veterans.

This event will kick off from Heckscher State Park, this Sunday, Sept. 13 and travel through many of our amazing downtowns. Every dollar that we net from this marathon will help fund services which will benefit our Suffolk County veterans community.

As a veteran myself, I will be participating in the event as one of the thousands running it. But, there are so many ways to be involved.

You can join in this effort to support veterans by running, volunteering or cheering on others who are participating in this great cause. In addition to the race, The Taste of Long Island festival will show off locally produced wine, food and drinks, with entertainment provided by bands made up of veterans. Among the thousands of runners are many veterans and active-duty members of the services.

I encourage you to go to www.suffolkmarathon.com to learn more about how you can be part of history and honoring our great veterans community. I look forward to seeing you out there.

Steve Bellone is the Suffolk County Executive.