When Iryna Kulyk, a paraprofessional at P 9 in Queens, approached the start line of the UFT’s eighth annual 5K Family Run/Walk on May 14, she was met by the sight of runners wearing ribbons bearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Kulyk, who was born and raised in Ukraine, said she “almost cried.”
“This is very precious to me,” Kulyk said. “I’m grateful that the UFT is doing this.”
Participants raised more than $5,000 for the UFT Disaster Relief Fund to benefit educators and their families in war-torn Ukraine.
Foggy weather on the Coney Island boardwalk didn’t dampen the spirits of the 200 participants, who ranged from veteran racers to first-time walkers and joggers. Joanna Bis, a teacher at PS 253 in nearby Brighton Beach, brought along two friends for her debut UFT 5K.
“I just got into running, and this is for a good cause,” Bis said.
Rachel Marks, a special education teacher at PS 15 in Red Hook, broke the tape at home plate inside Maimonides Park — home of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones — in 24 minutes and 34 seconds.
“I love running, and I wanted to represent my school,” she said.
Marks shares her love of running with students at PS 15 by heading a chapter of Girls on the Run, a program in which girls train together for a 5K while building social-emotional skills.
UFT Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell, who organized the event, also awarded trophies in a few unique categories: Anna White, a music teacher at PS 110 in Corona, Queens, was named the fastest runner with a stroller; Maggie Joyce, the chapter leader at PS 35 in the Bronx, and her son Christopher were awarded “fastest parent-and-child team.”
Maria Gallo, a teacher at PS/IS 66 in Canarsie, said her annual participation in the 5K is a way to “kick off summer.”
“It’s nice to get out and get together after two years of feeling separated and to raise money that goes back into a community,” she said.