July 29, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Hundreds of runners are expected to fill the streets of Jackson Heights on Aug. 28 for a fundraiser to help the victims of a recent fire.
The event is being organized by the Queens Distance Runners, a running group with about 1,500 members, and will take place on 34th Avenue. The run will begin by Northern Playground on 94th Street and end at 76th Street.
The course will bring runners past two buildings on 34th Avenue (by 89th Street) that erupted in flames on April 6 and left 21 people injured. More than 100 families were displaced and the fundraiser is to benefit them.
All proceeds will be added to a GoFundMe page that was set up shortly after the fire by Andrew Sokolof Diaz, co-president of the 89th Street tenants association, and Jesus Puerto, co founder of the Love Wins Food Pantry. The page has raised nearly $360,000.
Kevin Montalvo, co-founder of Queens Distance Runners, said that his group anticipates that between 500 and 1,000 people will participate and that $5,000 will be raised.
He said that many of the club’s members have close ties to the neighborhood and want to help the families.
“Due to the special circumstance of these tenants being displaced, it only made sense for us to use this as an opportunity to fundraise for them,” said Montalvo, who grew up in Jackson Heights, just two buildings away from where the fire took place.
“It really hit close to home and I wanted to do something about it.”
The competitive races will take place at 9 a.m. for the men, and 9:15 a.m. for the women.
For participants looking for a more social occasion, the starting times will be determined based on the age and gender of the runner.
For instance, women 60 years and older will start at 7 a.m., while non-competitive men aged between 14-39 will start at 8:40 a.m.
There will also be a kids mile—for children up to age 13—that will take place at 9:30 a.m.
The registration fee is $25 and includes a bib with the participant’s name on it. Discounts will be offered to members of the Queens Distance Runners. All children will run for free.
In the days leading up to the event, volunteers will be visiting the area to let the public know that the event will not interfere with regular traffic.
Queens Distance Runners, which was established in 2013, typically hosts around 12 running events each year.
The club will host its sixth annual Queens Marathon on Nov. 14, followed by a half-marathon on Dec. 12. Both events will be held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
To register for the mile, click here.