Column: 200,000 reasons to run

Drew Swiss, an Armonk resident and father of four, will celebrate his 56th birthday by running in the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. It will be his 27thmarathon. That alone is pretty incredible. The fact that, this year, he’s raised more than $57,000 for Team for Kids, a New York Road Runner charitable organization, makes it an even bigger story.Lisa-Jardine

I asked Drew why he ran for Team for Kids.

“In 2001, when I started running marathons again after a nine-year break when we had our children, I wanted to run for a cause. I did some research and found Team for Kids and knew this was the charity I wanted to help. Growing up in Brooklyn, I was one of those kids the charity supports. My mom fed me the worst kind of garbage—she even reused Crisco. I immediately embraced the charity and gave them my heart and soul. I felt it was my responsibility to help these kids. The obesity rate in the Bronx is 62 percent. It’s insane,” Swiss said.

Michael Rodgers, NYRR vice president of development and philanthropy, also endorsed Team for Kids.

The Swiss Family: Drew, his wife Amy and his children; Robby, Zoe, Jade and Shane. Photo courtesy Drew Swiss

The Swiss Family: Drew, his wife Amy and his children; Robby, Zoe, Jade and Shane. Photo courtesy Drew Swiss

“Team for Kids is a committed group of adult runners who raise funds for New York Road Runner’s Youth and Community Services programs while training for major endurance events. These funds provide free or low-cost health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity. NYRR’s programs serve more than 200,000 children each year in more than 800 schools and community centers in New York City, across the nation and around the world,” Rodgers said.

This year, more than 1,300 Team for Kids runners will be participating in the ING New York City Marathon and they are on target to raise more than $2 million.

Helping kids lead a healthier life isn’t just a hobby for Swiss, he actually works in the healthcare profession at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

Team for Kids members cheer on their runners at the New York City Marathon. Photos courtesy New York Road Runners

Team for Kids members cheer on their runners at the New York City Marathon. Photos courtesy New York Road Runners

“Our mission is keeping the people population healthy. Prevention is the key to solving our society’s healthcare problems. My personal mantra is get it right the first time,” Swiss said.

This year, Drew’s personal goal is to raise $65,000, which will bring his total amount raised over the past 7 years to $300,000.

“I am very close to reaching my target. It would be great to start the race knowing I already won,” he said.

According to Team for Kids, $300,000 provides running programs for 12,000 Mighty Milers from 50 New York City public schools.

Running is an important part of all the Swiss family members.

“My wife is training for a 5K, and my kids ran a race in our town a few weeks ago to raise money for our library. The seven year old smoked everyone and ran a nine-minute mile. He would have had an even faster time, but he was distracted by a puddle near the finish line,” Swiss said.

Since this will be his 27th marathon, I asked Swiss if there were a few that were standouts. He told me he ran in the Boston Marathon and was only a quarter-mile from the finish line when the bombs went off. If not for an untied shoelace earlier in the race, he would have been much, much closer.

Was he worried about running in New York City?

Kids at the December 2012 Jingle Bell Jog in Central Park.

Kids at the December 2012 Jingle Bell Jog in Central Park.

“Not at all,” he said. “The security at the New York Marathon is much tighter than it was in Boston. I’m not concerned.”

Drew is pretty low-key when it comes to pre and post preparations for the race.

“The night before, I always have grilled chicken with pasta, olive oil and garlic from Amore’s in Armonk. I sleep at home and, in the morning, I drive in and eat a bagel and a banana. After the race, all of the runners from Team for Kids meet at Cherry Hill, N.J., where I stretch and change and find my family. And then we go for a very long walk. If the kids are hungry, we’ll stop and get something to eat. The day after the race I’ll go for a four-mile run to get the kinks out,” Swiss said.

Swiss has won the Jack and Lewis Rudin Award for the past six years. The award is presented to the top male and female fundraisers for NYRR Youth and Community Services in honor of longtime marathon supporters Jack Rudin and his brother Lewis Rudin, who died in 2001.

I would bet Drew is about to make it a lucky number seven.

“Drew’s leadership and tireless efforts fundraising for NYRR youth programs epitomize the giving spirit of Team for Kids. It’s thanks to him, and fundraisers like him, that we are able to reach thousands of kids every year with our life-changing programs,” Rodgers said.

As thousands of runners line up to begin their 26.2-mile journey through the greatest city in the world, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” will fill the air as they cross the Verrazano Bridge and head into Brooklyn. If you are planning on going, keep an eye out for Drew. He’ll be wearing the Team for Kids lime green tank with his name on it in black Sharpie.

Cheer a little harder for him—he’s earned it.

Help Drew reach his goal, donate to Team for Kids

http://www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/442

Guarantee your entry in the 2014 NYC Half Marathon today through NYRR Team for Kids. Team for Kids runners will get a spot, training and fundraising support as they strive to make a difference in kids’ lives with NYRR youth running programs:

http://runwithtfk.org/Page/2014NYCHalf

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“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.” 

TO CONTACT LISA, email lisa@hometwn.com. And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand