The Breezy Point and Rockaway communities are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy six months after the storm.
Of the 2,800 homes, 2,400 remain unoccupied, with residents scattered about the tri-state area and beyond. About 130 homes burned in one of the largest fires ever witnessed in the state of New York, and another 250 homes were completely destroyed in the storm.
But at least for one day, the sound of sneakers hitting the pavement overshadowed the sounds of demolition in the community.
Despite a little rain, nearly 1,000 runners, joggers and walkers participated May 19 in the 33rd annual Buckley’s-Kennedy’s 5K Charity Run. The race began at the Fort Tilden U.S. Army Reserve Center and finished up at the Breezy Point Ball Field on Beach 210th Street.
Started 33 years ago as way to give back to the community, the race originally spanned from Buckley’s Tavern, Marine Park – owned by the Buckley family – to Kennedy’s Restaurant, Rockaway Point – owned by the Buckley and Casey families. Over the years, the route has changed slightly, especially this year in dealing with the aftermath of Sandy.
This year’s run raised $103,000. The proceeds typically benefit HeartShare Human Services of New York (www.heartshare.org), a 99-year-old non-profit organization that aids over 19,000 children, adults and their families. It features residential programs, early childhood services, autism programs and foster care and adoption services.
Based on the devastation from the storm, race organizers and restaurant co-owners, James G. Buckley and his sister Christine Strehle, decided to share the profits this year between HeartShare and the Breezy Point Co-Op still rebuilding from the storm.
“It was a foregone conclusion that we were going to do something for the community of Breezy Point based on the fact that this race has not only run to and through for 33 years, but we live in Rockaway and have a business in Breezy,” Buckley said. “It was a no-brainer to give back and share some of our proceeds to help Breezy Point rebuild.”
The family atmosphere of the race, post-race barbecue and awards presentation allowed attendees to temporarily overlook the destruction of the area and simply enjoy the day.
“This was the first normal thing that has happened in a year,” said Strehle, also a member of HeartShare’s board of directors. “There are so many people not home but that came down today to share in what we’re doing here to help Breezy Point. It’s basically normalcy coming back to the community.”
In addition to raising funds, the race also serves as a memorial to the extended Buckley family. This year’s run was dedicated to the following relatives of James and Christine: Beth Strehle, sister-in-law; Elizabeth Buckley, 12-year-old cousin; Mary Williams, aunt; and John Kane, long-time friend.
The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Brooklyn and Queens was well represented in this year’s race, with members of teams from Good Shepherd, Marine Park; Blessed Trinity, Breezy Point; and St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, participating.
In the fall 2007 boys’ CYO track championships, five runners from St. Francis de Sales finished one through five. Four of these runners – Devin Rocks (Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope), James G. Buckley Jr. (Xavier H.S., Manhattan), Patrick Goldberg (Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood) and Billy Dunn (Xavier) – competed in this year’s Buckley’s-Kennedy’s race.
“[The race is] just a testament to what Buckley’s does for the rest of the community and what HeartShare does for everybody else,” said Buckley Jr. “I think it’s a really good representation of who we are as a family and a community.”
The theme of the race was “Run, Rebuild, Revive,” and with the support of the Buckley family, Breezy Point and the Rockaways will continue the process of rebuilding and revival.
Donations are still being accepted until May 31. Text “5KRUN” to 27722 to donate $10 to the cause.