A guy walks into a bar, sits down and starts his tale of woe. So begins the old joke, with a thousand different endings. But this was no joke, and it wasn’t just one bar. When Jean Albanese, a Staten Island native, walked into Benjamin’s on Franklin to talk about what had happened on the New York City borough during Hurricane Sandy, owners of the Armory Square establishment had only one question: “What can we do to help?”
Next door at Kitty Hoynes, the same sad story produced the same eager response. Around the corner at Empire Brewing Company, it was the same thing. And so it went, across the business community, in the media, in the religious community, the running community and local media, as Syracuse gave it up this past weekend to help our neighbors downstate who have felt the wallop of this storm that somehow spared Central New York.
Runners joined in, led by William Hoyne (of the Kitty Hoynes family) and aided and abetted by Fleet Feet Sports. On Dec. 2, a 5K walk and fun run began at the Spa at 500, 500 W. Onondaga St., and culminated at Benjamin’s on Franklin, 314 S. Franklin St. George Kilpatrick, of New Inspiration for the Nation, picked up the mike and led the opening ceremony, which included a salute from Neil Driscoll, a longtime Syracusan who hails from Staten Island. Driscoll served as spokesman for the Syracuse City School District, among other public sector jobs.
By the time the 300 or so runners reached Benjamin’s, six local massage therapists were kneading sore muscles in exchange for a donation, Diamond Catering had added a cold buffet to the Hoynes’ offering of smoked pork sandwiches, a local face painter and Santa Claus himself were entertaining the kids who also had a chance to dance to the music of Pat Burke’s Ambassadors of Sound. More than 30 wonderful gifts from local businesses were raffled off, the good people of Caz Limo shuttled the runners and revelers back and forth, and a good time, for a good cause, was had by all. Rural Metro paramedics kept the runners safe on the route.
Counting the gift cards, cash and checks received at the event, nearly $9,000 was raised for Syracuse Sandy Relief. Those donations will be distributed to groups working on the ground to help those in need after the storm, including Guyon Rescue, the St. Clare’s Relief Fund, Project Hospitality and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The Dec. 2 event was just one of any number of efforts in Central New York to help with Sandy Relief. Rural Metro, National Grid and the 174th Fighter Wing have all sent people downstate to help. Individuals and churches have collected goods and donations, and lent their time and talents to the recovery effort. The good work continues. Visit Syracuse Sandy Relief on Facebook to learn how you can help.