Wai Law, 54, of Bethpage will be running 555 miles starting June 25 on the newly completed Empire State Trail from Buffalo to Battery Park, NYC in order to raise funds for The Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research at Stony Brook University. Last year, he raised more than $10,000 and completed 103 miles from New Paltz to Citi Field Queens in 24 hours.
His goal this year is to complete 555 miles in about 10 days unassisted while pushing a baby/pet jogging stroller stocked with supplies and light camping gear.
Wai explains, “For me, outdoor activities, running in particular, are more than just forms of exercise. It is also a powerful way to help various organizations, communities, and families. I run for those who can’t, I run to raise funds for important medical research, and I run to help pay for expenses that a family may need while dealing with a medical crisis.”
These runs have tremendous meaning to continue the efforts to increase awareness of Parkinson’s, raise money for research and honor the memory of Ruben Almodovar, the father of Wai’s longtime friend of 15 years, Dennis Almodovar, 53, of Massapequa. Ruben Almodovar battled Parkinson’s for 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, and passed at 80 years old.
Dennis and Wai bonded 15 years ago at a charity event and have since entered and completed many long runs or marathons.
“We are very grateful to Wai and Dennis for leading this extraordinary initiative in support of The Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research at Stony Brook University,” said Dr. Alfredo Fontanini, chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University. “Their friendship, support and ability to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease are truly inspiring. This year’s event is absolutely incredible, running 555 miles, in 10 days, unassisted is an exceptional feat and we will be rooting for Wai.”
The Hartman Center was established in 2013 within the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Stony Brook University through a generous gift from the Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson Research that was matched by the Simons Foundation, according to Fontanini. Every year, the Center awards grants to support innovative research projects at Stony Brook University. The goal is to advance our understanding of Parkinson’s disease and help the development of new therapeutic approaches.
“The support from the Hartman Center has helped jump starting a series of very innovative research projects. It brought new researchers into the field and sparked new collaborations between scientists at Stony Brook University,” Fontanini said. “The projects supported by the Center are typically multidisciplinary. They rely on new technologies and methods to open new alleys of research or address under-studied problems in the field. Over the years, the Center funded work aimed at understanding the genetic and molecular causes of Parkinson’s disease or the neurobiological bases of motor and non-motor symptoms.”
Wai also added a second charity to raise money for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and established “Wai’s 50 Yard Stroller Challenge” to encourage the public’s active involvement. To participate, members of the public are encouraged to find a stroller, cart, wheel barrel, or something else to push. Add some weight to it and run 50 yards for The Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research at Stony Brook University and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Donate $5 (or more) to one or both charities. When you complete the challenge, post it on your social page (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), tag @empirestatetrailb2brun and use #strollerchallenge, and challenge 5 friends.