Hughes Represents Kids of Special Olympics in NYC Marathon

Senior Caroline Hughes was making her way down the Verrazano Bridge alongside 50,000 other runners on Sun., Nov. 4, when it hit her that she was not running her usual route on the Walkway Over the Hudson, but was participating in the New York City Marathon.

Although always an athlete, Hughes picked up running in college as a way to clear her mind and destress. Only four years later, she trained for her first marathon entirely by herself, and finished in an impressive 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“Running next to complete strangers who also have a passion for running was such an unbelievable motivation,” Hughes said. “It was really, really awesome.”

Hughes first began training last summer, but it became harder to increase her mileage when she returned to Marist as the school work piled on. During mid-semester break, however, Hughes finally had time to pick up the pace, and ran 18 and a half consecutive miles, her longest distance yet. After break, she hit the gym for strength training, and, with only a few weeks to go before the big day, focused on getting enough sleep and eating properly.

Hughes’ decision to run the marathon was inspired in part by the children she works with at Windham Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, where she volunteers in the winter. Many of the students she teaches there are a part of Special Olympics, an organization that helps children and adults with mental and physical handicaps participate in sports. While preparing for the race, Hughes fundraised alongside 15 other runners on the Special Olympics Team, collectively raising over $70,000 for the organization.   

On that Saturday before the race, Hughes picked up her race number at the NYC Marathon Expo, where she saw runners of all different shapes and sizes, speaking a wide array of languages. The night before the race, she was sent a heartfelt video from her friends and family,  who wished her luck. She also received a letter from a Special Olympics athlete with Down Syndrome, in which he thanked her for her fundraising efforts. By 11 a.m. the next morning, the day of the race, the few fears Hughes had experienced were well out of mind, and she was ready to go.

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Hughes poses outside the NYC Marathon Expo

At the starting line, Hughes’ was greeted by the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” a special moment she said she will always remember. Neon signs in hand, her friends and family were scattered along the route, cheering her on. As she ran throughout the city’s five boroughs, Hughes noticed how although the crowds changed, each brought something new and exciting to the race, and every bystander, even members of the homeless, were there to support her.   

“As a runner, I was running alone, but I never felt alone,” Hughes said. “There was just so many people cheering you on, even if they didn’t know you. It was such a moving experience to see all of the different people supporting you. It really unified the entire city.”

Hughes recalled mile 21 as her most challenging, but mentally related her pace to her route back home, to remind herself that she had completed similar distances before. For further motivation, she thought of the kids of Special Olympics, who had already gotten her this far.

When she reached Central Park, she realized she was almost done; after passing her family one last time, she crossed the finish line only a few miles away, and was instantly overcome with emotion.

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Hughes finished the NYC Marathon, her first, in 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“It was just a really unbelievable feeling, to know that I had just completed a marathon,” she said.

Despite the long day, and the lingering dehydration and leg pain, Hughes returned to Marist later that night. Her own reward for the once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment? Hughes skipped her 8 a.m. the next morning, and slept in until her 11 o’clock class.

“I didn’t want to give myself too much time to rest,” she said. “I had to keep going again.”

Hughes said her favorite part of the experience was running along 1st Avenue to “Empire State of Mind,” while passing her friends and family. In the future, Hughes intends to run more marathons, but wants to race in other cities to see how their environments differ from New York’s.  

“At the end of the day, I was extremely proud of myself, because I was able to set a goal, and stick to a commitment, regardless of other things going on at the time,” Hughes said. “[Receiving letters from Special Olympic athletes] showed me that I am very blessed to run for something that is bigger than myself. It was really special, and something that I’ll never forget doing.”  

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Composting 101: Bananas and Buckets

Every morning, the smell of coffee fills Tess Cimino’s apartment, marking the beginning of her daily routine. The senior removes the coffee grounds from the machine and puts them into her compost bucket: a small container in her freezer full of organic food scraps such as banana peels, egg shells, and apple cores. 

Cimino first began composting while participating in the Marist in Manhattan program in the spring of her junior year. She kept a compost bucket in her freezer then brought it to a local farmer’s market each Sunday. “My mom thought I was crazy keeping my trash in my freezer,” chuckled Cimino. 

Over the summer both Cimino and fellow senior Aaron Tod were visiting other college campuses that had composting stations, which inspired them to bring the practice to Marist. “It’s so  interesting to think about how we can give new life to our old waste,” mused Cimino. “It’s an ongoing evolutionary process.”

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Senior Tess Cimino holds her compost bucket.

Since returning to campus for their senior year, Cimino and Tod have begun creating a composting pilot program. The pilot will first focus on the Foy Townhouses, where students will be given a few three gallon buckets to collect food scraps suitable for composting. 

Once the buckets are full students will bring them to the dumpster with their normal trash, and the grounds department will collect it. When the compost becomes soil, it will be used on campus.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a widespread composting program that’s in sync with  Marist’s values and sustainability plan,” said Tod. 

While some students may already compost at home, the method of composting Cimino and Tod are proposing is different according to Richard Feldman, Associate Professor of Environmental Science. “It starts with a feeder material that stimulates the growth of yeast and fungi, and it’s anaerobic, meaning it doesn’t use oxygen,” Feldman explained. 

Students will be given this agent, called Bokashi, to combine with their food scraps. Bokashi ferments the food scraps and reduces methane, the gas responsible for foul odors, making it suitable for indoor composting. 

The choice to give students Bokashi was a purposeful one. A compost with Bokashi, “Will take meat, dairy, and even bones, which is a benefit because it further simplifies the process for students” said Feldman. 

Tod added, “The type of composting we’re trying isn’t necessarily the fastest way, but it will be the easiest for students to adopt.” 

The next step for Cimino and Tod is educating and gaining support from students. To do this Cimino and Tod plan to host workshops to teach students how to compost. “At this point it’s mostly about getting students to be aware of the waste they’re creating,” commented Cimino. 

The biggest challenge the two seniors face is ensuring their composting program continues after they graduate in May. Steve Sansola, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, revealed a few students began a composting pilot three years ago with the Upper Fulton residences, however it didn’t last due to a lack of interest. “We have everything in place, we just need enough student interest and commitment,” said Sansola.

If students who don’t live in Foy want to participate in the pilot, Cimino recommended they collect food scraps in their freezers then dispose of them in the receptacles that will be located next to the dumpsters in the Foy parking lot. “When it comes down to it, composting is so simple,” said Cimino. “It’s just one extra bin but it can make a big difference.” 

Students Stay Up ‘Til Dawn for a Cause

While most college students were out partying or hanging with friends, on Sat., Nov. 11, Marist students traded in a night of sleep to participate in the 12th annual Up ‘Til Dawn event, which raises money for the pediatric cancer patients of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. 

Located in Memphis, TN, St. Jude’s is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer and treatment centers. With the help of the donations it receives through events like Up ‘Til Dawn, St. Jude’s covers the treatment, travel, housing and food expenses for all of the roughly 7,500 patients it treats each year. 

This year’s Up ‘Til Dawn Executive Director, Casey Jaeb, cannot remember a time when St. Jude Children’s Hospital was not a part of her life. She made her first donation- the contents of her piggy bank- at the age of six, and in high school organized a night-long zumbathon event, the proceeds of which went directly to the children’s hospital.

Now, as a college senior, Jaeb led the organization’s efforts to ensure its participants were fulfilling their fundraising potential, and would all make it to sunrise on Sun., Nov. 12.

“I don’t know about anybody else, but this moves me,” Jaeb gushed. “To see college students give up a night when they could be going out or doing other things with their friends, and [instead] giving their night to raise awareness about St. Jude’s, is amazing.”

The event kicked off at 11 p.m. with interactive games in the student center, followed by a karaoke session in the cabaret. In between activities, students watched video montages of St. Jude patients and their stories, and took photos at the decorated backdrop. Food and refreshments were provided throughout the night to keep the participants well fueled.

Jaeb explained how the event’s brainstorming process usually starts in April, while the actual planning begins about three weeks into the start of the new school year. Although a portion of the funds for the event are provided by Marist’s Student Government Association and St. Jude’s, some of the expenses come directly out of the board member’s pockets.  

While students who participated were encouraged to fundraise at least $100, many went above and beyond that goal, with some raising over $1000 each. For those who struggled to fundraise, however, the St. Jude executive board hosted several events and donation challenges throughout the semester to give students a head start, including the “Halloween No-More-Cancer-Rally,” which took place on Oct. 24.  

Sophomore student Alexa Fisher participated in the event with her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. The fundraiser struck a personal chord in Fisher, who has several family members affected by cancer.   

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The members of Kappa Kappa Gamma participated in this year’s Up ‘Til Dawn

“[Living] in the college bubble, you often times don’t think about anything but yourself and your problems,” Fisher said. “So [realizing] that there’s other people that are struggling more than you but are powering through, shows that you can power through too.”

Similar sentiments inspired Ava Hanlon to become involved in Up ‘Til Dawn during her freshman year, when a close family friend’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia.

“My passion [for Up ‘Til Dawn] comes from the hope and spirit these children have to fight this disease everyday,” Hanlon, a junior, said. “To me, it is my job to to help in any way I can, to one day see these children home and healthy again, cancer free.”

According to the St. Jude website, approximately 75 percent of the hospital’s budgeted costs are covered by public contributions. Since its conception more than 50 years ago, St. Jude’s has helped increase the childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent in 1962 to 80 percent in 2018.

“St. Jude is one of the greatest charities in the world,” Jaeb said. “They provide treatment for kids with life threatening illnesses at no charge to the families, and on top of that they do top-of-the-line research that they share with every hospital and every doctor around the world who wants access to it. St. Jude is just amazing.” 

Enthusiasm was still high among the participants as the night neared dawn, and reached a crescendo when, at 5 a.m., the executive board members gathered on the third floor of the Rotunda to reveal the total amount fundraised: $61,567 of their initial $65,000 goal.

This year marks the first time Marist’s chapter of Up ‘Til Dawn fundraised over $60,000. Since the event, the total has climbed to $62, 342, and continues to grow even now.

“The outcome of the event is one thing, but the fundraising we were able to achieve is astounding,” Hanlon said. “That one night of sleep is incomparable to the sleep parents and children lose when battling cancer, so every ounce of me is beaming with pride of how incredible the turnout was.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Walk Held At Walkway

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On Saturday, the Dutchess County chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association held their annual walk on Poughkeepsie’s Walkway Over the Hudson.

The walk starts over on the Highland side of the Walkway and then is a total of two miles, but you can either walk for a longer or shorter distance.  

For an overcast day, the walk had many volunteers and many walkers show up for the cause. Sue Serino, a New York State Senator, and Karen Smythe, a candidate for the New York State Senate were among the many participants at the walk. Music was played by 92.9, a local radio station, to get the walkers ready for the two-mile walk ahead of them.

David Sobel, the President and CEO of the Hudson Valley chapter, was also in attendance. Sobel is in charge of overseeing both the Dutchess and Ulster County walks. “My job is to make sure that we work year-round to get teams together,” Sobel said. “We try to make sure they do as much fundraising as possible.”

For fundraising, each walker sets up their own page on the Alzheimer’s Association website and then can post the link to their page on their social media platforms or email the page to friends and family where they can make donations. If a walker raises more than 500 dollars, they are part of the Champions Club. People can register for the walk on the same day, and no donation is necessary to walk.

Shortly before the walk started, emcee of the event shared with the crown that over $16,000 had been raised by the participant of the walk.

Sobel also shared that the walk would not be possible without the efforts of its many volunteers.

“We host a kickoff event and have monthly meetings for our volunteers,” Sobel said. “We also send them out into their communities to meet people affected by this disease.”

Many of the volunteers have their own connections to the disease and volunteer as a way to spread awareness about the disease throughout their communities.

After the walkers check in and get their wristbands which enables them to participate in the walk, they can go pick out a flower. Each color flower represents a different connection to the Alzheimer’s disease. Purple meant that you knew someone who has died from the disease and orange meant that you had the disease yourself. Either before or after the walk, people placed their flowers in stacks of hay.

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Local vendors such as Simple Gourmet and local police and fire stations donated food and drink to the cause for the walkers to enjoy either before or after the walk.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization that helps raise awareness through its local chapters through its walks and their volunteers. The money that the walkers raise all go towards finding a cure for this disease.

 

 

Marist College Walks Over Hunger

 

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – One of Marist College’s signature annual campus events was once again a huge success.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Marist held its annual Hunger Walk in an effort to both raise awareness about the issue of hunger in the community, and raise money for several hunger relief organizations including Bread for the World and Dutchess Outreach. The event was organized primarily by Marist Campus Ministry and the Marist Honors Program. Those participating in the walk conglomerated for pictures on the Champagnat Green at approximately noon and the walk eventually commenced at about 12:30. Continue reading

Quiet Cove Closed For Construction

Poughkeepsie, NY — Quiet Cove Riverfront Park is located on the west side of Route 9 in the Town of Poughkeepsie, just past the north entrance of the Marist College campus. The park used to only be available to Hudson River psychiatric center residents, until Duchess County purchased it. Now open to the public, the park’s proximity to Marist College’s campus is what makes it a desired destination for Marist students. Students can go to the park to walk the trails, have lunch, fish, or just hang out by the water of the Hudson River. Continue reading

Illnesses on College Campuses

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y — Syracuse University has an outbreak of mumps cases on campus, which started back in late September. In early October, a message was sent out to the campus saying that the number had risen from two to eight. However, by mid-October, the numbers had increased to 24 confirmed and 26 probable cases of mumps. (Update: as of Nov. 17, there were 42 confirmed and 79 probable cases.) Continue reading

Breast Cancer Awareness in the Hudson Valley

Poughkeepsie, NY – As we all know, October 1 marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Throughout the month there are many fundraisers and programs going on all over the country. In the Hudson Valley there is one group in particular that stands out, and they are known as the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation. Continue reading