The TCS New York City Marathon represents the best of New York—when all New Yorkers come together to support each other and cheer on their neighbors. For the sixth year, United Way of Long Island was selected as a charity partner for the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon, which took place on Sunday, November 6, 2022. United Way of Long Island’s Team Mission United runners finished the 26.2- mile route, raising over $28,000 in support of U.S. military veterans and their families on Long Island.
Too many U.S. military veterans are still living below the federal poverty line, earning less than $27,750 annually; sometimes, even while employed. Mission United is a critical funding source for United Way programs that support veterans and their families. Mission United funding helps provide services and resources in career training, employment assistance, and emergency financial aid. The need for these services is particularly significant on Long Island as there are more than 67,000 veterans living in our communities.
United Way of Long Island’s critical work to create a safety net for veterans and their families was a call to action for the 9 Mission United Team runners.
Paolo Fiore (Brightwaters, NY)
Paolo finished the marathon first among the Team Mission United runners in under three hours. A middle school team and athletic coach, Paolo combined his passion for sport and charitable giving with inspiration from his dad who ran two NYC marathons. “I have the utmost respect for veterans and knowing that my run would raise money toward United Way veteran support programs, I decided this was a marathon I could not pass up,” said Paolo.
Samantha Vallerella (St. James, NY)
Samantha completed her very first marathon in under six hours. She was motivated to be part of the Team Mission United by her dad and grandfather who served in the military. “My dad was an officer in the Air Force for over 20 years,” Samantha said. “As I got older, I could see all the sacrifices he made daily to help protect our country.” “For me,” she said, “giving back to the community that means so much to my family is a major bonus. I am proud to be able to pay it forward to individuals that truly deserve our support.”
Dan Mottes (West Islip, NY)
Dan, an experienced long-distance runner, timed in at three hours and 40 minutes. "The NYC marathon is THE marathon, and I wanted to make sure I was at my best," Dan said. "Knowing my donations support veterans made this race even more important. United Way’s Mission United is doing amazing things to help veterans adapt to being home, and I am proud to be a part of that."
Jessica Medaglia (Long Beach, NY)
Jessica finished the race in four hours and 47 minutes. "I love running but felt that if I was to run 26.2 miles, I want to be able to raise money for something important to me like Mission United," she said. "This [veterans] is a cause I care about, and I hope to help as much as possible".
Matthew Zinner (Bayport, NY)
Matthew, a medical student under the Armed Forces Health Professionals Scholarship Program, crossed the finish line in less than six hours. He joined the Team Mission United in tribute to his Marine Corp dad who followed his father’s military footsteps. “It's what motivated me to go into medicine in the first place. I want to take care of the people who do so much for us," Matthew said.
Ian Bateman (Bayport, NY)
Ian ran for Team Mission United and beat his father’s time, even if he was minutes behind his team member. "We have family members who served in the Marines, and both my grandfathers were in the military,” Ian said. “I find it so admirable that people choose to serve and give to their nation. I take every chance I can to give back and thank everyone who contributed to my fundraising goal.”
Jim Hopkins (Greenlawn, NY)
Jim finished the race at four hours and 38 minutes in recognition of his father-in-law, who served as a corpsman for the U.S. Navy. According to Jim, “The TSC NYC marathon is one of the best races in the world. “There is so much excitement every step along the 26.2 miles. I didn’t expect to be as fast as I was when I was 22, but I'm so proud to have crossed that finish line as part of the Mission United Team.”
Lisa Argast (West Islip, NY)
A first-time marathon runner, Lisa finished the race at 4 hours and 36 minutes. Lisa ran cross country at SUNY Maritime and upon graduation, became a civil contractor for the U.S. Navy. Her husband is in the Merchant Marine Reserves, and she has many other family members in the military. For Lisa, Mission United and the NYC marathon was as much a family affair as it was to support her fellow service members. “My kids have seen me working hard to train. I often had them both in a double stroller during my runs, and my three-year-old son would yell, ‘Go faster, Mom!’ When I crossed the finish line, it was so exciting for all of us.”
Alma Rocha (Freeport, NY)
Alma, a Freeport Elementary School Principal), finished her 31st marathon in six hours and 40 minutes. "The first time I ran the Long Island Half Marathon was the first time I saw veterans running with just one limb,” Alma said. “In Mexico where I grew up, war wasn’t something I thought about often. So, when I ran the half marathon, it was real for me to see someone with a lost arm or leg. The impact that had on me to be able to come back to the world with crutches or wheelchairs takes my heart. I thought, if veterans can run this, what can I do?" Alma ran “not for recognition but to contribute to United Way’s Mission United."
Since 2016, Team Mission United has raised more than $180,000 for veterans through runners’ participation in the TCS New York City Marathon. The TCS New York City Marathon covers all five boroughs of the city, while attracting over 50,000 participants and finishers. To participate in this once-in-a-lifetime race, each Team Mission United member made a minimum fundraising commitment of $3,000.
“We are proud to know everyone on Team Mission United who dedicated months of training to run in the marathon, said Theresa Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “The commitment this team has shown as they raised funds to benefit Long Island’s veterans is inspiring!”
The United Way of Long Island holds a 4-star (highest) rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of charities, and is a GuideStar platinum-rated charity. To learn more about Mission United, visit: https://www.unitedwayli.org/mission-united.