At just 19 years old, Christina Russo's brother, Anthony DeMartino, lost his battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2007.
"It was heartbreaking," she said. "At a very young age, I would say probably in my teens, I learned that my brother's life span would most likely be cut short."
Russo started the Anthony DeMartino Foundation to raise awareness and help find a cure for the genetic disorder that weakens muscles over time. Hundreds joined Russo at Mount Loretto for the sixth annual Anthony's Run Sunday. Many have been personally touched by the disease.
"Unfortunately, my son James was diagnosed with Duchenne's 18 months ago, so I'm here to show my support and explain to them how grateful I am that they are still continuing to fight this battle," said James Raffone, who was participating in the race.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association tells us more than 150 families on Staten Island are living with the disease. All funds raised from the 5k will go towards medical services and equipment.
Some participants said they're glad to give back.
"A sense of accomplishment, the fact that the entry fee that you pay for goes to a great cause, and to support the memory of Anthony DeMartino is a great thing," said Jeff Benjamin of Eltingville.
The run has raised more than $100,000 since it started. For Russo, it means the memory of the Tottenville High School graduate, who loved baseball and wrote poetry, lives on.
"He always had such a positive attitude. He was always smiling. He had such a positive outlook on life," she said.
For more information, go to anthonysrun.org.