Second Annual Event to Help Raise Funds for Children’s Educational Initiatives
Long Islanders who are ready to step into spring can join thousands of runners on Saturday, May 21 for the Hance Family Foundation’s 5K Run/Walk and Family Fun Day in Floral Park. The second annual fundraiser was created to unite the entire community for a day of fun, while also raising much-needed funds to support children’s endeavors across Long Island and the greater New York area.
The Hance Family Foundation, (HFF), a nonprofit organization, was founded by Warren and Jackie Hance of Floral Park to honor the memories of their three daughters, Emma, 8, Alyson, 7, and Kate, 5, who died in a tragic car accident on the Taconic Parkway, on July 26, 2009.
In a fairly short amount of time, HFF has already accomplished a great deal by giving back to hundreds of children through the development of educational programs.
Last year’s first Family Fun Day was a great success with more than 1,500 participants signing up for the race. This year’s event promises to exceed that amount. The HFF has already received an outpouring of support from many local vendors who are donating food and prizes, as well as entertainers and more than 200 volunteers offering their time.
The goal of the event is to raise enough monies to continue HFF’s educational missions over the course of the next year, according to its Executive Director Bernadette Smith. “We only do one fundraiser a year, although we do accept donations year-round,” Smith said. “It’s also a celebration of the girls’ lives. So we bring together community and family and friends. It’s really amazing; it’s a great day.”
The fundraiser will begin with The PeeWee race at 9 a.m.; Emma’s mile at 9:15 a.m.; and the 5K run/walk at 9:45 a.m. The PeeWee race will be run entirely inside Floral Park’s Centennial Gardens and Bird Sanctuary, located at 251 Floral Parkway, Floral Park (corner of Raff Avenue and Floral Parkway). Emma’s Mile and the 5K will begin and end at Gardens, but the majority of the races will be run through the flat, scenic streets of Floral Park.
The old-fashioned Family Fun Day will take place from 1-6 p.m. Attendees can enjoy a barbecue, as well as an auction, featuring an array of items, including many different themed baskets loaded with professional sports items, relaxation and spa gifts, children’s toys, and more.
Children’s activities include a Kiddie Corral, where you’ll find blowups, face painting, balloon animals and tattoos; Ali’s Art Gallery to create an original masterpiece and frame it; and Katie’s Dress Up Corner, where girls can enjoy a day of dress up, play in the doll house and have a photograph taken of themselves.
Many of the donations from Family Fun Day will fund several of HFF’s educational programs, including ‘Beautiful Me’ — the Emily, Alyson and Kate Project (EAK). The comprehensive program was developed to help enhance and develop the confidence and self-esteem of all children. Beginning in pre-k and continuing through teenage years, EAK is designed to give all children a greater sense of self and community using a variety of age appropriate materials and strategies.
Smith maintained that the Beautiful Me project has already met with widespread success in Nassau County, with stops in Floral Park, Garden City, Stewart Manor and Rockville Centre. In addition, it has reached approximately 300 girls in Suffolk County and is featured at Molloy College and Fordham University as part of one of college courses. “It’s done unbelievably,” Smith added.
The Foundation is equally committed to its give-back initiatives and recently launched a program entitled Heart Hands Hope. According to Smith, the idea was simply to continue giving in the spirit of the Foundation’s Christmas Toy Drive, which hand-delivered between 500 and 1,000 toys to children last year. “We wanted to extend that seasonally and bring that throughout the whole year,” Smith said.
In its first official outing last month, volunteers for Heart Hands Hope distributed balls, hula-hoops, reading books and art supplies as well as basic articles of clothing to 200 children in four locations throughout the day. Foundation members worked in coordination with St. Ann’s in the Bronx and social workers in Harlem, Hempstead and Franklin Square to reach out to those in need. Smith said that the organization respects the privacy of those in need. “We wanted to make sure that there was a certain level of anonymity so families come forward in these tough economic times,” said Smith.
To learn more about the Hance Family Foundation or to make a donation, visit www.hancefamilyfoundation.org. To register online for the 5K Race, visit active.com until Wednesday, May 18. Race day registration will be accepted at The Floral Park Centennial Gardens and Bird Sanctuary site between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. No numbers will be issued after 9 a.m.