Running the New York City Marathon as part of the United Way’s Team Mission United will be David Smith’s first full marathon, but he’s no stranger to track and field. Running this race, to raise funds for veterans, is both a return and something new for him. He has participated in the Syracuse and the Great South Bay half marathons.
“I enjoy running,” Smith, a 41-year-old East Meadow resident, said. “I did track and field in school. I’ve completed a couple of 1/2 marathons, not a full.”
David sees being part of Team Mission United as a chance to be a part of this prestigious annual event and at the same time raise money for veterans’ groups, two good goals wrapped up in one event. “United Way is a great charity and to be able to help veterans is a great opportunity,” David added after returning from a six-mile run to and in Eisenhower Park. “This is a chance to support a worthy cause.”
In addition to being part of this year’s Team Mission United, David is running with extended family members who are part of the team. He was put in touch with United Way by his wife’s cousin Tom DeKennip, a veteran who ran with Team Mission United in 2019.
David is running with his wife’s brother Jay Safuto and DeKennip. He also knows Alyssa Barbosa, another team member.
“I’ve been trying to enter the New York City Marathon for a few years,” David said, adding he had entered but not won the lottery to run the marathon in the past. “So when I heard I could join the team, I jumped on it. For years, I did a lot of running. It tapered off since Covid. Now I’m stepping it up.”
The marathon is 26.2 miles, but David took a far longer journey to get to New York. He grew up in County Meath, near Dublin, Ireland, where he became a draftsman for an architect. He traveled to New York in 2002 at age 22, met his future wife Nicole, who grew up in Levittown, N.Y., and they now have two children Colin, 12, and Lyla, 9.
He may be running up and down roads to prepare for the marathon, but David spends a lot of time working beneath them for National Grid in the underground department,
“When I came to the United States, I did carpentry and five years ago I got a job with National Grid,” he said. “We dig holes, install new gas service, fix gas leaks. I’m on a shift crew. Most weekends I’m working.”
David said he is glad to have the opportunity to do something for veterans after they did so much for others. “They provide an unbelievable service for the country,” he said. “They risk their lives for what we take for granted today.”