Third annual community celebration to help raise funds for children’s educational initiatives
It’s the most talked about day of the year in Floral Park and on Saturday, May 19, thousands of Long Islanders will be participating in the Hance Family Foundation’s 3rd Annual 5K Run/Walk, in conjunction with the Floral Park Youth Council, and Family Fun Day to support children’s endeavors across Long Island and the greater New York area.
A nonprofit organization, the Hance Family Foundation (HFF) 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.
Last year’s Family Fun Day was an overwhelming success with more than 1,500 participants signing up for the race and approximately $120,000 in monies raised for the foundation. 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 hundreds of 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 do just this one event every year because we try really hard to make sure we are not picking the pockets of people all year long. So we ask them to come out and do this one thing and really support us and spread the word about the foundation everywhere as far as we can,” Smith explained.
In its two and a half years, the Floral Park-based HFF has already made great strides in fulfilling their mission of helping thousands of children through its various charitable endeavors, giveback initiatives and its creation of educational programs for young women.
Many of the donations from Family Fun Day will fund several of HFF’s educational programs, including its most popular program, ‘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.
While it started with one small initial group, the program quickly grew in popularity among mothers who wanted their daughters to participate. “It basically is a way to give a little extra support to the children who had been affected by this tragedy in our neighborhood. There was a tremendous sense of loss within the town and we wanted to make sure these children were supported.
“In another way it was helping deal with the loss of Alyson, Emma and Kate in a positive way rather than crawling under their bed and crying or whatever the case may be,” Smith added.
Through word of mouth and via its website, the “Beautiful Me” program began in Floral Park school districts and now is being taught in many school districts across Long Island and plans to take it all over the country are under way. “We have been all over Long Island. We have expanded into different states; we’ve made it into New Jersey and Pennsylvania…we’re in talks with San Francisco,” Smith said.
The Family Fun Day Race/Walk begins at 9 a.m. with a Pee Wee Run, followed at 9:15 a.m. by Emma’s One Mile Race and the 5K Run/Walk at 9:45 a.m. All races start at the Floral Park Centennial Gardens, rain or shine. The races are followed later on by Family Fun Day. This event begins at 1 p.m. (rain date May 20) and brings the community together for some old-fashioned family fun at the beautiful Floral Park Centennial Gardens.
The day features children’s activities, barbeque, bouncy rides, a mudslide, live bands and auction items are available. This community celebration also provides unique recognition opportunities for individual and corporate sponsorships.
To learn more about the Hance Family Foundation or to make a donation, visit www.hancefamilyfoundation.org.