A wave of purple flooded through Port Jeff May 18 as the Royal Educational Foundation hosted their sixth annual Family Fun Run, now named in honor of Jill Nees-Russell, an active village resident and foundation member who died last year.
Close to 200 people came out for the yearly event, raising funds for the foundation’s efforts to promote and aid the local school district. As the event went under way, foundation treasurer Laura Zimmerman spoke on the verge of tears about Nees-Russell, a proponent of both the foundation and the school district. She was nominated three times for the Power of One award, but was ineligible for the first time, too sick to receive it the second. Instead of giving her the award posthumously, the organization instead decided to rename the entire event in her honor.
“We wanted to recognize Jill’s contribution to our village, school and community with a lasting tribute to her amazing spirit,” she said.
In addition to their Power of One award, the foundation awarded $750 to Fred Russell, Jill’s husband, who plans to use the money to create a scholarship in her name.
This year’s Power of One award went to Tony Butera, a teacher in the Port Jefferson School District who the foundation said inspires students and others in and out of the classroom.
“To even be mentioned in the same space as Jill is an honor,” he said.
Port Jeff Chamber wellness fair showcases the bounty of healthy living
After the run, hundreds congregated at the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School gym for the 10th annual Health and Wellness Festival, hosted by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.
Visitors could learn more about eating healthy, dieting, exercising and medicine from multiple vendors such as Mather and Stony Brook University hospitals. Participants even had the opportunity for face painting and to participate in goat yoga, doing poses such as “downward kid,” and “stretching goat.”
The Royal Educational Foundation of Port Jefferson is a not-for-profit educational corporation established in 1993 for the sole purpose of raising money to support and enhance the educational process in the Port Jefferson School District and to promote and support creative and innovative teaching techniques, programming initiatives and the utilization of new technologies in the classroom.
Its board of trustees is comprised of community members who volunteer their time to organize fundraising events and to administer the foundation’s funds in cooperation with the school administration and board of education. Since its inception, the foundation has facilitated the granting of several hundred thousand dollars to the district.
Recently, the foundation lost a vital member of its board with the passing of Jill Nees Russell. She was a tremendous asset to the foundation, as well as to the school district and the greater Port Jefferson village community. She was a kind, caring and positive person who focused her energy on making Port Jefferson a better place. She led by example, was instrumental in moving many projects forward (new PTA events like the Science Fair and The Green Team, village programs like the Boater’s Maritime Festival, Heritage Weekend, Festival of Trees and The Holiday Light Show at Village Hall, just to name a few) and the positive impact of her selfless efforts will be felt for years to come. She is sorely missed by everyone who knew her.
At this time, the Royal Education Foundation takes special pride in announcing the renaming of the annual community walk-run event in Jill’s honor. Commencing with this year’s Family Fun Run, the event will be known as the Jill Nees Russell Power of One Family Fun Run!
The Power of One Award could not have a better namesake as Jill was the personification of its required attributes. The award inscription reads in part:
“The little things you do each day have the power to affect a great many people. You inspire us with your willingness and ability to help others. You take on the world, one day at a time, continuously searching for a way to make things better…”
This year will be the sixth time that the Royal Educational Foundation will present the award in conjunction with the annual Family Fun Run. The foundation is pleased to hold this event alongside the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce’s annual Health and Wellness Fest and looks to continue this partnership in the future.
The Fun Run was started as a way to encourage physical activity and to celebrate the positive influence we can have on one another within our families and the community.
The Power of One Award is presented to an outstanding community member who positively impacts the lives of those he/she touches on a daily basis. Past award recipients were Thomas Meehan, Richard Anderson, Deidre Filippi, Jesse Rosen and Christian Neubert. This year, the recipient of the Jill Nees Russell Power of One Award is Anthony Butera. Butera is an elementary school teacher in the district; heads the HS/MS drama program; and regularly volunteers for the Dickens Festival, the Harbor Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker” production and with Theatre Three. The proceeds of this fundraiser will be used to enhance the quality of education in the Port Jefferson School District.
The Royal Educational Foundation invites you to participate in the 6th annual Jill Nees Russell Power of One Family Fun Run on Saturday, May 18. Whether you wish to walk or run, the 2-mile course is open to all ages. The run begins at 8 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, continues through the streets of Port Jefferson village, and ends in the High School Bowl. It coincides with the start of the Chamber of Commerce’s Health and Wellness Fest at 9 a.m. and all participants are invited, and urged, to attend.
You may register for the run at www.reffundraiser.ticketleap.com/royal-educational-power-of-one-fun-run/ or on the day of the run between 7:30 and 8 a.m. at the Village Center. Advanced registrants need to check in no later than 8:15 a.m.
The Royal Educational Foundation is hosting its third annual Power of One Family Fun Run on Saturday, April 16, to benefit the Port Jefferson school district.
According to the event flyer, the 2-mile run is meant to “encourage physical activity and is intended to celebrate the positive influence we can have on one another within our families and community.” The course starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center on East Broadway and goes through the streets of the village, ending at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School on Old Post Road.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the foundation’s efforts to improve the school district. Each runner or walker is $15, while families cost $50.
People of all ages are welcome to participate, and can register between 7:30 and 8 a.m. at the Village Center. Participants should check in no later than 8:15 a.m. Everyone will get a fun run T-shirt before the start of the race.
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