Wantagh resident and Sewanhaka High School math teacher Peggy McHugh is running her first half marathon on Sunday, May 5, in honor of Sister Mary Sheridan, who was her homeroom teacher at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, whom she met when she was only 14 years old.
Sister Mary is living with Alzheimer’s at the Sacred Heart Convent in Hempstead, where McHugh tries to visit monthly, with her two daughters, Molly and Kerry.
“Sister Mary Sheridan was my homeroom teacher at Sacred Heart Academy when I was in 10th and 11th grade,” said McHugh on her relationship with Sister Mary.
McHugh will be running the Long Island Half Marathon, which kicks off at Eisenhower Park, and raising money for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in Sister Mary’s honor. To date, she has already raised more than $2,000.
“I love to run,” said McHugh. “I like to challenge myself and I wanted something good to come out of Sister Mary’s disease.”
While McHugh and Sister Mary lost touch after she graduated high school, but reconnected in 2002 and became fast friends.
“We had a blast spending time together,” said McHugh, who would accompany Sister Mary to Mets games, movies, dinners and manicures while Sister Mary came to all of McHugh’s family events, including showers, birthdays and Christenings.
“We are a unique pair, literally 48 years apart, but the best of friends,” said McHugh. “My Nana died when I was 11 so Sister Mary is my surrogate Nana. We always enjoyed each other’s friendship.”
McHugh has described Sister Mary as the best listener who is completely non-judgmental and a wonderful spiritual advisor.
“She has taught me that prayers move mountains and giving creates happiness,” McHugh explained. “I love being around her. Although it’s hard now to see her suffering, we still have this indescribable bond. It’s like we know we belong together, and most of the time she knows me. Her face lights up when I walk in the room.”
To help donate, visit McHugh’s fundraising website, www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/a-run-to-remember-for-alzheimers.