GE 5K for Petit Family Foundation attracts over 1,000 runners

Posted on Jul 17, 2016

by Erica Schmitt

PLAINVILLE — Support took many forms at the eighth annual GE 5K Road Race to benefit the Petit Family Foundation, held Sunday. morning

More than a 1,000 runners took off down Route 10 when the clock struck 9, contributing physical stamina and participatory donations to the cause. About 300 others gave their time and services, providing food, drinks, entertainment, massages and more throughout the morning at race headquarters on Woodford Avenue.

And then there was Dr. William Petit Jr., who encouraged, congratulated and thanked the runners for their contributions to his family’s foundation, which he anticipates will donate $510,000 this year to various causes.

After the race wrapped up, he could be found leading cleanup efforts, folding up tables, hugging friends goodbye and even helping jump-start a car or two.

“When you do things for other people it makes you feel better,” said the Plainville native, whose wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and daughters, Michaela and Hayley, were killed in a Cheshire home invasion in 2007.

Nine years later, the foundation has donated more than $2 million to youth education, women in the sciences, victims of violence and people suffering from chronic illnesses.

Petit, his wife Christine and their young son are preparing for his run for the state legislature later this year, as a Republican representing Plainville and New Britain.

“The Petit family suffered a huge loss, losing Jennifer, Michaela and Hayley, and the fact that we’re able to do good things across the state and in different parts of the country — it gives us some solace,” Petit said.

Family friend Warren Stasiewski shared a similar sentiment while serving popcorn and other concessions Sunday alongside his wife Sara, daughter Kathy and her fiancé, Mike Mehrtens.

Someone was missing from the group: the Stasiewskis’ son Stephen, who died unexpectedly in 2008 at the age of 21. The family was introduced to Petit soon after, who was then still grieving his own loss.

“It was very tough on us,” said Stasiewski, who lives in Meriden. “He told me, ‘You’ve got to keep your head up.’ ” Now, the family is showing its gratitude to Petit by donating 100 percent of Sunday’s sales — nearly $1,500 — to the foundation.

Supporters and runners fueled up for the big race Saturday night at a pasta dinner, organized by family friend Gia Oei, a former GE employee. The Avon resident also ran Sunday.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the foundation and all the good work they do in the community,” Oei said afterward. “I think this is a tremendous way we can show how to triumph over tragedy, by carrying on the work his family began and the causes they care so deeply about.”

Support in its youngest form came from children who participated in the morning’s Fun Run, along with teenagers who ran in the race.

Plainville High School junior Matt Violette designed the T-shirts worn by many participants.

“I created the design in my Photoshop class,” the 15-year-old explained. “I’m happy to support the cause.”

Also taking part were race teams, including a group of 100 students from the University of Connecticut who benefited from a foundation grant that funded a transitional program in the school of engineering.

In addition to GE, this year’s other major sponsor was Electrical Wholesalers.

John Krell of Farmington was the overall race winner, clocking in at 16 minutes, 6 seconds.