5K for Petit foundation draws big crowd
Published: July 15, 2014 | Last Modified: July 15, 2014 02:16PM
By Thomas Passarelli Special to The Citizen
The area outside General Electric’s Plainville plant resembled a fairground early Sunday morning, July 13, as well over 1,500 people gathered to participate in the 7th annual GE 5K Road Race.
Established in the year following the Cheshire home invasion that took the lives of Jennifer, Hayley, and Michaela Petit, the event serves as the primary fundraiser for the Petit Family Foundation. It has raised almost one million dollars for the organization.
“It’s a great cause,” said Nick Kanazirev, a first time participant in the race. “I think that’s probably what draws a lot of people … everyone loves running 5Ks, but the Petit Family Foundation is the main reason I’m here.”
With the funds raised by the event, the Petit Family Foundation has been able to provide financial support to programs that, to quote the organization’s mission statement, “foster the education of young people … improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses … and support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.”
Though the event was born out of tragedy, it has become a celebration of life, purpose, and community. “It seemed really family oriented and friendly,” said Kathleen Webb, a veteran runner taking part in the GE 5K for the first time. “Along the way, people came out of their house to cheer, they had the sprinklers going … it just felt good to be here.”
This sense of a community bond inspired some local residents to offer their time in order to make the event run smoothly. “I’m from Plainville, and we support Plainville people 100 percent,” said Robin Poulos, who has volunteered at the race since its inception in 2008. “It’s what we do,” she continued, pausing to wave as a pair of fellow volunteers passed by. “Plainville is small but mighty! I always say that.”
The GE 5K takes great strides to provide a family-friendly environment where people of all ages and ability can show their support for the Petit Family Foundation, holding a free-entry “Kids Fun Race” for children eight and under prior to the main event. Participants can also choose to enter the race as a fitness walker rather than a runner.
“It was really relaxed,” said Webb while comparing the GE 5K to other races she has participated in. “Oftentimes I think road races seem intimidating for people that don’t run all the time, so I think this event in particular would be a great starting place. It doesn’t seem like there’s any pressure.”
“We try to involve the whole family,” Poulos said. “My parents are in their eighties, and they came to the pasta supper last night … they can’t do the walk, but they can do something.” A small cart labeled the “PFF Party Wagon” rolled by, ridden by a pair of laughing children. “It’s fun for the kids, too,” Poulos noted. “And I think it models for them, you know? You want to make a change in the world, this is what you do.”
Race results can be viewed at Plattsys.com. To learn more about the Petit Family Foundation, visit Petitfamilyfoundation.org.