Alumnae join thousands of athletes to run for a cause

Three Sacred Heart Greenwich alumnae conquer the New York City Marathon and raise money for charities.

Sacred+Heart+Greenwich+alumna+Mrs.+Hannah+Walker+Miracola+%2706+joins+thousands+of+runners+to+race+in+the+annual+New+York+City+Marathon+November+3.++

Mrs. Hannah Walker Miracola '06

Sacred Heart Greenwich alumna Mrs. Hannah Walker Miracola '06 joins thousands of runners to race in the annual New York City Marathon November 3.

Three Sacred Heart Greenwich alumnae, Mrs. Hannah Walker Miracola ’06, Ms. Iris Longo ’09, and Ms. Tara Varbaro ’98, participated in the annual New York City Marathon November 3.  Charity has become a large aspect of the marathon, with thousands of runners using the race as a platform to raise awareness and money for different organizations.

This year, 53,629 athletes finished the race, according to nyrr.org.  The marathon strongly encourages the majority of its runners to participate in partnership with a charity or organization.  There are over 400 official charity partners of the marathon, but runners may also fundraise for organizations of their choice, according to tcsnycmarathon.org.

Ms. Iris Longo ’09 (orange) runs across the Verrazano Bridge with the other marathon runners.  Courtesy of Ms. Iris Longo ’09

“Running for a charity not only provides you with guaranteed entry, it also gives you the opportunity to change lives and give back to your community,” according to nyrr.org

Through her involvement in the 2019 New York City Marathon, Mrs. Miracola raised funds for Restore NYC, an organization whose mission is to “end sex trafficking in New York and restore the well-being and independence of foreign-national survivors,” according to restorenyc.orgThe opportunity to represent a charity like Restore NYC is what motivated Mrs. Miracola to take part in the marathon.

“Running in the NYC Marathon has always been a dream of mine, but I wasn’t quite sure when that dream would actually come to fruition.  When a friend posted that a spot had opened up on Restore’s charity team I, somewhat impulsively, agreed to run,” Mrs. Miracola said.  “Not only was I motivated by the prospect of representing Restore, but also the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest marathon.”

The challenging 26.2-mile course spans across all five boroughs of New York City, beginning in Staten Island and ending in Central Park in Manhattan, according to patch.comThis year’s marathon was extremely different from the first race in 1970, when 127 all-male athletes ran the course in Central Park, according to nyrr.org

Today, marathon organizers encourage people from all over the world to run and to watch.  Spectators supported marathon runners by bringing posters, ringing bells, and cheering, according to newyork.cbslocal.com.  The thousands of supporters who came to cheer on the marathon runners affected Mrs. Miracola. 

“We live in a world that defines us by our achievements, our appearances, and our potential. I think the most rewarding part of the NYC Marathon was the experience of being cheered for by people who knew absolutely nothing about me,” Mrs. Miracola said.  “They didn’t know where I attended college, what I did for work, or where I grew up.  All the crowds knew was that I was in the race, that the race wasn’t easy, and that I needed their support more than anything to finish well.”

The marathon gave both experienced and novice runners the chance to unite in an encouraging and motivating environment.  Ms. Longo discussed her experience and involvement with the New York City Marathon and its community outreach initiatives.

“Through getting involved in the NYC running community, I’ve joined a greater community that has brought me new social groups, friends outside of work, and into charitable organizations such as Girls on the Run NYC and the New York Junior League,” Ms. Longo said.  “[When signing up for the marathon] you become a member of the New York Road Runners where your membership fee goes to fund their various free exercise programs, youth programs, and health presentations.”

“Trust your training; if you don’t think you can stick to it on your own, consider running for a charity…”

— Ms. Iris Longo '09,

Ms. Longo raised money to assist New York residents with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, according to give.caringkindnyc.org.  She partnered with an organization called CaringKind, which “provides free comprehensive services that include a vast network of family caregiver support groups, education seminars, training programs, social work services and a wanders’ safety program,” according to caringkindnyc.org.  Ms. Longo shared the personal impact that the organization has on her. 

Ms. Tara Varbaro ’98 participates in her third New York City marathon November 3, in partnership with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Courtesy of Ms. Tara Varbaro ’98

“My maternal grandmother died [from] Alzheimer’s disease, and even though my family was fortunate enough to arrange for private care for her, most people are not that lucky; they have a very heavy financial and personal burden where a social network and connections to social service resources are essential,” Ms. Longo said.

Ms. Varbaro also raised money for an organization that is close to her heart. Ms. Varbaro, a passionate runner, competed in her first marathon in 2016 with Team in Training, a flagship fundraising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She has continued to fundraise for this organization due to the personal connection she has with it.

“I chose to run with this organization because my mom had been diagnosed with Lymphoma and I wanted to raise money for a cause that was important to me,” Ms. Varbaro said. “Crossing the finish line having raised over 12,000 [dollars] for lymphoma research was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Ms. Longo offered advice to students interested in running in or volunteering at the New York City Marathon. 

“Don’t let the length discourage you. Take an opportunity to volunteer at a water station or handing out medals, and see if it’s something you want to do, ” Ms. Longo said.  “Trust your training; if you don’t think you can stick to it on your own, consider running for a charity, it will motivate you. Also, get in touch with me, I’ll make you a poster and see you at mile 24.”

Featured Image by Leah Allen ’22