by Emily Dulanski and Terry Duffy
Before digging into the first full day of Niagara County's 53rd annual Peach Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11, consider starting off with an event that benefits you and a child in need. The annual Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk promotes health and donates proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation this year.
Co-sponsored by KeyBank of WNY, the event opens with registration at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday at the KeyBank branch, corner of Fifth and Center streets in the Village of Lewiston. The walk gets under way at 8:45 a.m., and the run at 9 a.m.
"This is our 32nd year," said Tom Baia, event chairman. "One day, myself and former (physical education) teacher Mimi Cacciatore (who serves as co-chair for this event) were running and we decided to start the Saturday of the Peach Festival with a run."
Each year, a different charity benefits from this event. "All charities over the years have been wonderful" to work with, said Cacciatore, who reports that Make-A-Wish came into consideration as a beneficiary from the involvement of a local child whose family requested anonymity.
"We've raised over $70,000 (from) the run and given to a variety of charities," said Baia.
Many community members return each year to run or walk in this event.
The walk, a relatively new event, sees active participation from children ages 5 and up and adult women.
Both report the non-sanctioned 5K typically sees participation from students from Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Wilson central school districts.
Lew-Port cross country "Coach Tom Parker has been very helpful with us in the past," said Cacciatore, who adds he and other Lew-Port coaches like to get their students involved in the run as a training exercise.
"We have quite a few teachers (that participate) from Lewiston-Porter and Niagara Falls high schools," adds Baia. "People all over Western New York participate. ... We usually have 200 to 250 walkers and runners."
"Gary Raby (from Lew-Port) helps us out a lot" with timing said Cacciatore. WNY Finish Line Services is supplying the equipment for this year's event, she adds.
Kiwanis reports there is an entry fee of $20 for the run or walk event, which includes a T-shirt for the first 200 entrants, door prizes, post-race refreshments, music and an awards ceremony. Awards, donated by A-Plus Accounting, include overall male and female runners in each age division as well as first, second and third prize.
Entries can be found at lewistonkiwanis.org.