By Annette Hinkle
Dr. Stephen Petruccelli of East End Sports Chiropractic will run the New York City Marathon this Sunday as part of Fred’s Team, a collective of thousands of runners who run to raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
Who is Fred and how did you become a member of his team?
Fred was Fred Lebow, an original organizer of the New York City Marathon. After he passed away in mid 1990s, Sloan Kettering formed Fred’s team for pediatric cancer research. They run in all different marathons and half marathons — including Boston and Chicago. They’ve raised $3.3 million this year so far.
How many Fred Team’s runners will be taking part this Sunday?
For New York City there are 400 to 500 runners.
Does the money runners raise go to a specific purpose?
I believe it’s research. But if you want it to go for a specific type of cancer research, you can do that.
How much are you looking to raise?
I committed to raising $10,000. I’m at $12,000 now. I wanted to raise $15,000 if I could. The first year I raised $6,000 and change, then the next year it was $8,000 in change and the third year $11,000 and change. This is the most I’ve raised.
Is the receipt of pledges contingent on you finishing the entire marathon?
The money is already there.
So you could give up at mile 10…
I could, but I won’t.
How many years have you been running in the New York City Marathon?
This is my fifth year. The first year I got in through the lottery and just ran by myself. After I completed that one, I wanted to run again and figured I should raise money for a cause.
Was there a specific reason you chose Fred’s Team?
My mom passed away from breast cancer in 1998 and I wanted to raise money for cancer. My mom was also treated at Sloan Kettering. The couple of years I ran in honor of my mom, the last couple I’ve been running to help support Katy’s Courage in Sag Harbor.
Have people been pretty forthcoming with donations to the cause?
People have been great. I don’t really do a heavy handed delivery asking for solicitations. I have a sign in my office and 80 percent comes from patients.
I can see that being an effective fundraising technique. You’re a chiropractor, so your patients realize you could hurt them pretty badly if they don’t contribute.
I can put them in a compromising position and force them to donate if necessary. But it usually doesn’t come down to that.
Tell me about the process of running that first marathon. How challenging was that?
I decided I was going to do a marathon. I always wanted to challenge myself to do it and one day, I was like “I’m not going to get any younger.” So I just threw my name in to the lottery figuring it might take a few years to get in. But in 2006, the first year I applied, I got in. They tell you in April and I thought, “Uh oh, I better start running.” My daughter was a year old at the time, and she was a sleeper. So while she was napping I would run on a tread mill. I trained that way.
Was it hard to build the stamina to do a full marathon?
I’ve always been an athlete and certified strength coach, so it’s not as hard as it might have been for others. I found a plan I like, it involved running three days a week so it was manageable for a father and a small business owner. You go up about a mile per week. The first year I was only running two miles the first week, but built it up over the 25 weeks.
How has your time changed since that first year?
I ran 4:35 the first year, the second year it was 4:24. Then we had our second kid and I took two years off. The next year I ran 4:07 and last year it was 3:59. I’m getting faster the older I get.
Do you run the marathon with someone else or are you doing it solo?
Pretty much I do it on my own. I just need to concentrate. At mile 20 to 22 I start not feeling well, so need to bear down and get through it. I’ve made it every year.
It sounds a little like climbing Mt. Everest.
I don’t know if I’ll climb Everest, but I’ll run a couple more marathons.
To donate to Stephen Petruccelli’s fundraising efforts, go to the Fred’s Team website and type his name in under “Find a Participant.”