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Sandy Hook Runner Taking On The "NYC Half" For A Full List Of Reasons

Anyone who can pick out a blue baseball cap with white stitching that says “Patriots” from the mass of 15,000 runners expected for Sunday’s New York City Half Marathon may be looking at a Sandy Hook resident who will be running that morning. The blue and white cap is Catherine Galda’s signature running hat, she says, and it will be in its place and ready to run once more in just a few days.

Mrs Galda will be running the 13.1-mile race (“NYC Half 2013”) on Sunday, March 17. It will be her first race since last spring, and she is looking forward to the competition.

“I would call myself a weekend enthusiast,” Mrs Galda said with a laugh this week. She did her first half marathon last April and was training for the ING in Hartford, scheduled for October, when she was sidelined with a stress fracture. Before April’s race she regularly did 5K and 10K races.

Mrs Galda, 45, will be running on March 17 to see how well her training is going. She will also continue her personal fundraising effort for The Rotary Club of Newtown’s Sandy Hook School Fund. Her goal is $2,600. As of Thursday, March 14, she had raised $2,181 through donations.

“My hope is to get to that level before the race,” she said.

Race organizer New York Road Runners encourages runners and their families, friends and fans to get involved, give back and have fun, according to the race’s website. This year’s race theme is “More Than A Run.” Many competitors will be in New York on Sunday to overcome personal challenges or run for charity in addition to challenging themselves to run a personal best.

Mrs Galda, whose older daughter Hannah is a second grade student at Sandy Hook School, chose the Rotary fund for a few reasons, she said.

“Of all the funds and charity organizations, and fund drives, that have been started since the shooting, when I was looking around I saw that the Rotary Club gives money in service to other things,” said Mrs Galda. “I knew they had experience with that, with giving money to others who need it. They could facilitate that pretty easily.

“Additionally, according to the information on their website, they were talking about getting money to people immediately,” she continued. “From my position, that is something that is needed, and has been needed all along. In those first days people needed money for funerals and other expenses. Since then there have been mortgage payments and other financial needs.

“The Rotary is set up to get money to other people very quickly. That was important to me.”

Not only is Rotary able to put the money into the hands of those who need it now, but Ms Galda is not touching any of the money being pledged on her behalf. She is using Crowdrise, an online fundraising website, to channel her donations. Donations are received by the website, “and then checks are cut directly to the recipient,” Mrs Galda said March 13.

“I never touch the money, which is another thing I like,” she said, adding that she is working on having the website’s service fees covered, or reduced, so that even more money goes directly to Rotary’s special fund. The Sandy Hook School Fund has already provided assistance to families who lost loved ones on 12/14, to families whose children survived the tragedy, and to first responders. As of February 13 the fund had received donations in excess of $600,000.

Those who would like to support Mrs Galda’s effort should visit crowdrise.com/CatherineGalda.

Hannah, her 4-year-old sister Meghan and their father, Jim, will not be in the city Sunday morning. Mrs Galda expects she will nevertheless have some support buzzing in her ears while she is running around Central Park, through Times Square, and along the Hudson River waterfront before hitting lower Manhattan and South Street Seaport.

Mrs Galda and a friend, “who will be my sherpa for the day on Sunday,” she said, will be heading into the city on Saturday. Sunday’s race begins at 7:30 in the morning.

“It’s a lot, and it’s super early for the girls,” said Mrs Galda. “My kids will probably call, though. I’ll have my iPhone with me, so I won’t be able to talk to them, but I can click in and listen to them while I’m running. I’ll be too out of breath to converse, but they can cheer me on that way. They’re pretty excited.”

Runners are expected to maintain a 13:45-per mile pace, and have a three-hour time limit, according to race organizers New York Road Runners.

Mrs Galda seems a little nervous about the half marathon ahead of her (“My training has not been as seamless this time as it has been in the past, so I may be a little off,” she said Wednesday afternoon), but she expects to be able to beat the time limit set by race organizers.

“I’m hoping for a stand-up, less-than-2½ hours finish,” she said. “I will be happy with that.”

A stand-up finish, and $2,600 for the Rotary fund, should make for a great St Patrick’s Day for Catherine Galda.

WABC-TV will broadcast the race live from 7 to 9 am. The broadcast will also be streamed locally on 7online.com and nationally on ESPN3 from 7 to 11 am.

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