A year ago, a Northwest team of dedicated marathon runners was in New York City all set to participate in the New York City Marathon when the widespread devastation of Hurricane Sandy necessitated organizers to cancel the race.
On Sunday, November 3, "Team Korey," a group of 40 marathoners, will gather to run in the ING New York City Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the Carnation-based nonprofit, Camp Korey.
Named in honor of Korey Rose, a vivacious teen who lost his battle with bone cancer at age 18, Camp Korey helps thousands of children restore their childhood through therapeutic recreation. Children who participate live with illnesses such as mitochondrial disease, cerebral palsy and craniofacial differences. The time spent with other campers is often the only time these children are around other children just like them.
The members and spouses of Team Korey, who had already travelled to New York in 2012 for the weekend event, quickly turned the disappointment over the race’s cancellation without complaint, into relief efforts. They donated warm clothing they’d brought with them, volunteered to hand out food, blankets and clothing, and they helped organize a shorter race in Central Park that gave almost 25,000 runners who had trained for months an opportunity to run.
Undaunted by last year’s cancellation, the members of this year’s Team Korey are gearing up again to participate in the 2013 New York City Marathon.To date, Team Korey has raised nearly $145,000 toward this year’s goal of $180,000 before race day. They need supporters who can help the team reach their goal and provide the Camp Korey experience to more children in the Northwest by making a donation. Funds raised will help Camp Korey serve more than 3,000 children, at no cost to their families, this year alone.
"This is a special year for Team Korey. Some of these runners have been training for over a year to run the marathon in honor of the campers and now, along with their communities, are providing an incredible gift to children battling serious medical conditions," Tim Rose, founder and chairman of Camp Korey and a Woodinville resident, wrote in an email.
Team Korey was organized almost by accident by Chris McReynolds when he decided, rather than mark his 50th birthday in 2012 by doing something for himself, to celebrate by giving back to a cause that could help children like his 11-year-old niece who benefits from activities held at Camp Korey. Runners in the marathon community quickly signed on to the opportunity to run and raise funds for a worthwhile cause.
McReynolds’ objective from the beginning was to have a wide-ranging group of runners that had a primary focus to fundraise for Camp Korey.
For many of the people who ran in 2011, it was their first marathon. What started out as a whim ended in a tremendous experience and changed people’s lives while raising nearly $300,000.
"This year, we have 16 women and 24 men, ranging in age from 32 to 60 years old. The majority of the runners are from the Greater Seattle area, with some from Carnation, Everett, Olympia and as far away as Germany, Denmark, California, Vermont, Rhode Island and Virginia," wrote McReynolds in an email interview.
All of the runners on the team must raise a minimum $3,500, which nearly every runner significantly exceeds, which provides them an invitation for guaranteed entry into the marathon. Each runner is still responsible for paying their own entry fee of $227 plus all of their own travel expenses.
One hundred percent of the money raised by Team Korey goes directly to Camp Korey, and it does not pay any of the expenses of the runners.
"Personally, I set my [fundraising] goal at $26,200, which is a challenging $1000 per mile. So far, I have raised about $21,000," McReynolds wrote, adding, "This year, we are lucky to have a parent of one of the Camp Korey campers running on the team. It is wonderful to have him on the team, and it brings it all home."
Not only do the team members spend time fundraising for Team Korey, they are also actively preparing to run the 26.2 miles by training seriously for eight to nine months leading up to the marathon. Most athletes run 35-50 miles a week and work up to a 16-20 mile run on the weekend.
"My son Henry, who was diagnosed with a Mitochondrial Disease, has been a Camp Korey camper for the past three summers," wrote Sam Meyer, a runner on Team Korey.
"Camp Korey has been such a great experience for my son. He loves camp and looks forward to it every year. He has benefited so much from the care shown by all of the amazing people involved at camp. He loves the chance to just get away, engage in all kinds of fun activities and be ‘free.’ Raising awareness about the camp by running for Team Korey seems like such a small thing to do to give back to Camp Korey in relation to what Camp Korey has done for my son," Meyer wrote.
Local camper Sophia Pook, a nine-year-old girl with kidney failure, is one of the many Camp Korey campers directly benefitted by Team Korey’s fundraising. Her mother, Camille Pook, wrote in an email, "Sophia has gained confidence in trying new things at camp. We are amazed at her new sense of independence. She has a chance to make new friends, which hasn’t always been easy for her. Sophia wouldn’t be able to experience camp if we had to pay for it, so we’re very grateful for all the runners on Team Korey."
Over the past five years, the team has raised more than $800,000 in support of Camp Korey through running, cycling, climbing and other athletic and community events. Funds raised help to provide the opportunity for more children living with these life-altering conditions to attend Camp Korey.
Team Korey is comprised of community members from diverse backgrounds, including doctors, students, lawyers, business leaders, and members of Camp Korey’s board of directors. Runners have committed to covering all of the travel costs associated with the event so that all monies raised go to the camp. To donate and see upcoming events in the greater Seattle area, please visit: www.campkorey.org.