Runners representing Derry’s Children in Crossfire have spoken of how they helped with the relief effort in Manhattan following the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy last week.
The seven runners, who had travelled to New York hoping to run in the city marathon, said they were “humbled and saddened” by what they saw and heard in New York and were only too happy to help out once they learned the marathon was to be cancelled.
JR McLaughlin, Children in Crossfire’s Head of Fundraising said the local team had made the decision to travel to New York last week as they believed the marathon would still go ahead and that running it would be seen as “an act of solidarity with the people of New York”.
However he said they were shocked to find there was a great deal of hostility towards the race when they arrived. Areas of Manhattan and further afield were still without power or under water and many poorer areas of the city were left devastated.
“We were relieved when we heard the marathon would not go ahead. It would have felt wrong.” But determined to do their bit the team volunteered at their nearest relief centre where they were able to offer help and advice to some of those worst affected.
“We have heard some heartbreaking stories,” JR said. “Families who have been left with nothing. Sadly it seems the poorest families have been hit the hardest.”
JR explained that the organisers of the New York marathon have donated all registration fees to the relief fund.
In addition all the water and generators which would have been put in use throughout the marathon have been redirected to the relief effort. Corporate sponsors Asics have also donated profits from the Expo to the fund.
JR added that once the team return to Derry they plan to walk a 26 mile route in the city to “earn” their sponsorship money.