HERKIMER – Fifty-five Central Valley seniors joined the ranks of Mott Marathon runners Thursday, during the 13th annual fund-raising event.
Every June, Central Valley seniors, faculty and staff, alumni and Utica Road Runners round the track 105 times to complete the 26.2 mile run and raise money for various charitable causes. This year, 55 seniors signed up to run, said marathon namesake and organizer
This year’s marathon was run in honor and support of Central Valley Senior Marcus Sardina, who has been battling a rare form of cancer for more than a year, and racking up overwhelming medical bills in the process.
“We’ve always had a cause here, unfortunately,” Mott said. “We’ve run for a teacher who battled cancer, a few years ago it was for Jack Day. We’ve run for the American Cancer Society the past couple years, but this year it was no decision. We’re raising money to go directly to Marcus’ family. He’s a real positive kid.”
Marcus Sardina said a few words to his classmates before they set off for their run.
“The first few laps will seem easy, but then it will get harder. I know what it’s like to go through something hard,” he said. “It’s mind over body.”
This year’s marathon took place at East Herkimer Elementary School, as the high school track is undergoing construction. The change in venue did not stop hundreds of family, friends and spectators from lining the infield to cheer on runners.
“I know a lot of people running,” said Anna Bunce, a 2016 Central Valley graduate who ran the marathon herself as a senior. “It’s not just random runners, this is the town coming out to support each other. It has personal meaning to me because I know the Day family very well and we always try to make it a little bit about Jack.”
In coincidence to the 55 runners who signed up to run from the class of 2018, both Day and Sardina wore number 55 on the Central Valley football team.
Over the past 12 years, 242 runners have raised nearly $25,000. In 2016 alone, runners raised $10,000 in memory of Jack Day, who lost his battle with melanoma in 2015. This year, Day’s younger brother, Timmy Day, now a senior, took to the track, Mott said.
The marathon began in 2006 as good-natured joking between Ilion senior Eric Lachacz and his English teacher, Jim Mott. In response to Mott’s disappointing time in the 2006 Boston Marathon, Lachacz teased that anyone could run a marathon, even without training. Mott responded with a challenge that Lachacz prove his boast and raise money for charity in the process. Lachacz accepted and raised $53 for charity, jogging the distance in five hours and 45 minutes. Every year since, seniors have stepped up to follow his example.