Road race for Petit Family Foundation returns

Posted on Jul 6, 2016 by Brian Johnson

PLAINVILLE — The ninth annual GE/EW 5K Road Race returns to Plainville July 17, with proceeds supporting the Petit Family Foundation’s mission to help educate young people and support those affected by chronic illness and violence.

The 5K run/walk will begin at 9 a.m. on East Street near the intersection with Maple Street and will finish at the GE Industrial Solutions at 41 Woodford Ave. It will be preceded by a kid’s fun run starting at 8:30 a.m. and it will be followed by a raffle that will be held at 10 a.m.

Registration for the GE/EW 5K Road Race will be held on race day from 7 to 8:30 a.m. It will also be held July 16 from 12 to 4 p.m. at GE Industrial Solutions. Also on July 16, there will be a pasta dinner and family fun from 5 to 8 p.m. at the GE Industrial Solutions. Families are invited to come and enjoy carnival games, arts and crafts, live music, face painting, an open photo booth and door prizes. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 8 to 12 and free for kids 7 and under with a $30 family maximum.

The Petit Family Foundation was established to honor the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela Petit, who were murdered during a home invasion of their Cheshire home in 2007. Dr. William Petit has stated on that he wishes to continue the “kindness, idealism and activism” that defined the lives of his family. Hayley and later on Michaela, the website states, were dedicated to community service and charitable giving, especially with the MS Society. Their mother Jennifer Hawke-Petit suffered from the illness.

Last year, more than 1,200 runners and walkers, including 10 teams, raised more than $100,000 for the Petit Family Foundation. This year, the foundation has awarded more than 20 grants this year, including a four-year, $248,000 donation to the Jackson Laboratory to help young women pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The grant supports an outreach program to local high schools where researchers teach kids about modern genetics,” said Petit. “This year, we’ve also helped to establish a pilot program for a four-day science summer camp at the West Hartford Children’s Museum for inner city girls who might not otherwise be able to attend science camp. In Cheshire, we have also implemented a Smart Start STEM International program for students in third to fifth grade. In this program, they learn to build and program their own robots and cars.”

Robert Heslin, who helped found the road race with his brother Gary, said that, as an avid runner, the GE/EW 5K Road Race is “one of the nicest 5K runs in the state.” The Heslin brothers and Dr. Petit were part of the Plainville High School class of 1974 and ran cross country and track and field together.

“It is a flat course, and it is fast and well-organized, with plenty of activities for the kids and an award ceremony that is second to none,” he said. “It I wasn’t running it, I would run in it every year. In past years, prizes have included everything from Timex watches to gift certificates and running shoes.” Heslin said Plainville has been very supportive of the race over the years.

“Dr. Petit and I meet with the town manager, police, fire and public works department every year and we have always had their blessing,” he said. “This has become a real community event and always runs smoothly. Our focus this year is on increasing participation, and to do that we have reached out to Amy Labas, the athletic director at Plainville High School. We are encouraging the various school sports teams, from the football and soccer team to cross country and track to girls’ tennis, to form their own race teams and compete against one another.”

Petit added that there has also been regular support from Cheshire Academy, Chase Collegiate School and Miss Porter’s School, where his daughters took classes, over the years. Petit encouraged people to sign-up for the race and help support the continued work of the Petit Family Foundation. “Our foundation isn’t just its board members or volunteers, it’s everyone who helps us to give back to the community,” he said. “Eighty to 85 percent of everything we raise stays in state to support programs that align with our mission to educate young people and help those affected by violence and chronic illness.”

Title sponsors include General Electric and Electrical Wholesalers. Major sponsors include Stanley Black & Decker, Loureiro Engineering, Ferguson Electrical Contractors, The Lane Construction Corporation, Manafort Brothers and Sardilli Produce & Dairy Co. and Channel 3 WFSB Eyewitness News.

For more information, or to register online, visit

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or