Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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NYer Of The Week: Tom McGrath Runs Marathons To Help Disabled Children Stay Healthy

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This week's New Yorker is going the extra mile, and then some, for kids who need a leg up. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

When Tom McGrath pounds the pavement in New York City, he knows he'll face obstacles.

"I have to watch out for the cars, the trucks, the buses and the taxis. I have to watch out for the cyclists," McGrath says.

For this lifelong endurance runner, a powerful force keeps him going.

The 63-year-old is running six marathons - that's 26.2 miles - every day for six days. It's all to raise money for Achilles Kids, a nonprofit that helps disabled children stay healthy.

McGrath's goal is to raise enough money to buy 5,000 pairs of sneakers for children in the program, students like those at P.S. 201 in Queens who take adaptive phys ed. The students work toward logging 26 miles of physical activity throughout the school year.

"Our kids can make that mile or complete their miles any way they can. So it could be walking, it could be running, it could be rolling," says Dinah McCann, an adaptive phys ed teacher. "Their goal is so important for them, because they follow along every month and they get to move their picture. So visually, they get to see where they are in terms of their goal."

The goal of the "virtual marathon" is to keep the kids moving. They're rewarded with a new pair of sneakers at the end, but what they discover along their journey is immeasurable.

"It's the idea of, 'I can do anything, no matter what,'" says Rebecca Lozada, principal of P.S. 201. "So the 26 miles is just the beginning of a foundation being laid and a mindset for our students to know anything is possible."

Luckily for the Achilles Kids, the seemingly impossible is McGrath's specialty. He started his running career in the 1970s with a 53-day jog from New York to California. Ever since, he's been using his "gift" to help those who aren't as able.

"I'd run from here to California again to help that kid. I would," McGrath says.

So, for putting one foot in front of the other to help children reach their goals, Tom McGrath is our New Yorker of the Week.

For More Information

For more information about Tom McGrath's run and how to help Achilles Kids, visit firstgiving.com and search for Tom's name.

Nominate a New Yorker

If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

NY1 News
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

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