Runners go extra mile for North Hills Community Outreach

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More than 30 runners pledged their efforts in the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday to help North Hills Community Outreach help their neighbors.

State Rep. Hal English, R-Hampton, 50, a Hampton resident, was one of 33 runners who participated in the marathon on behalf of the community outreach organization.

After the race, he observed that everyone was mindful of those in the Boston area who were victims of the bombing last month.

"The shocking attack upon innocent runners and spectators marred [the Boston Marathon] but strengthened our will as a country," he said. "I ran to help strengthen our community by running on the NHCO team."

Most of the community outreach organization runners participated in relays -- two ran half-marathons and one person ran the entire 26.2-mile course.

Mr. English was on a five-person relay team and ran nearly four miles.

Also on Mr. English's relay team was Hampton manager Christopher Lochner. Mr. Lochner, 54, of Hampton, has been an avid runner most of his life.

"I used to really care about times, but now it's all about having fun and reaching a goal," he said, noting that the Boston bombers tried to take the joy out of a joyous, family-friendly event.

"The atmosphere was really wonderful, and the security was there, but it was stealth. We can't let [the terrorists] think they will win; they won't."

During the past two years, runners have raised $13,500 for the outreach organization to help families in crisis regain self-sufficiency and improve their quality of life.

Executive director Fay Morgan said this year's marathon participants raised $10,219, although donations are continuing to come in and can be received for the next two weeks.

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"We're so proud of our runners, and we gratefully acknowledge that they made the extra effort in running the Pittsburgh Marathon to help our neighbors in need," Mrs. Morgan said.

The outreach organization's development manager, Jennifer Drayton, is in charge of fundraising and appreciates the ability to fundraise through a variety of events, including runs, because it fosters teamwork within the community.

"I've seen groups who have done their own runs or walks to support us," added Ms. Drayton, recalling a mom who held a 5K race for awareness of celiac disease and collected gluten-free food for NHCO's food pantry.

"Races like this also inspire younger people to get involved, which fosters another generation of people who are civic-minded."

She said it's always nice to be able to do the marathon as a fundraiser and bring attention to organizations like NHCO.

"They're there when people need their help," said Mr. Lochner, a longtime supporter of the organization. "It's good to be there for them."


Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer:


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