‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash’ Kicks Off Walkway Marathon Weekend in Downtown Poughkeepsie

2017 ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash - credit Nin Lei

Hundreds participated in a one-mile fun run/walk down Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie for the ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash held on Saturday, June 10. The “first leg” of the weekend-long Walkway Marathon Race Series provided members of the community of all abilities with a race of their own through downtown Poughkeepsie.

The festive event also attracted numerous elected officials and community leaders. Walkway Board Chair Michael Oates introduced U.S. Congressman Sean Maloney, State Senator Sue Serino, State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison and City of Beacon Mayor Randy Casale. Michelle Barone performed a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

Walkway Marathon Race Series partners — Walkway Over the Hudson and Dutchess County Government – with representatives from several participating organizations, collaborated to present the second annual ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash, the opening race in this year’s Walkway Marathon Race Series. The other Walkway Marathon races, including the College-to-College 5K, Half-Marathon and Full-Marathon, are scheduled for Sunday, June 11.

More than 300 participants ran, walked or rolled  the one-mile course, which started at Hamilton Street and finished on Market Street, where many well-wishers, including the elected officials mentioned above, awaited to encourage the participants.

“The ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash has once again proven itself to be the ‘feel-good’ event of the year. This wonderful race in the heart of Poughkeepsie demonstrates the strength of diversity, and the openness of inclusion The ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash is now central to the Walkway Marathon Race Series,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. “This race is all about bringing the community together for inspirational activities. And today there were many smiling, caring people participating with enthusiasm!”

This year’s Dash was co-chaired by Linda Campbell, Arc of Dutchess Director of Marketing and Employment Services and Toni Ciarfella, Dutchess County Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs. Linda Campbell said, “We thank all of our partner agencies for their commitment to the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative in Dutchess County, and we applaud all of our Grand Marshals, race participants and the agencies they represent for their energy, enthusiasm and will to succeed!”

Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said, “While I’m looking forward to running in the half-marathon race tomorrow, I take great pride this weekend in participating in the ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ Dash, our second annual run/walk for individuals of all abilities through the City of Poughkeepsie. We in Dutchess County are proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our neighbors with special needs. Instead of focusing on what differentiates us, we look for the innate potential of each individual – and the Dash invites participants of every age and ability to excel.”

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison said: “The City of Poughkeepsie is honored to host this exciting event on Main Street once again, and we applaud all athletes. We are inspired by strong showing of our community — residents, business owners, family members and friends – in support of our ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash athletes and the entire Walkway Marathon Race Series.”

Partner Agencies selected participants to serve as “Grand Marshals” of the Dash. Grand Marshals of the 2017 ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash were:

  • Edward “Buddy” Sommerfield, Abilities First
  • Raymond Pomeroy, Abilities First Youth Program
  • Jarrett Russ, Anderson Center for Autism
  • Elizabeth “Lizzy” Ramsey, Arc of Dutchess
  • Jadelyn Penko, Beacon City School District
  • Jessica Rainey, Cardinal Hayes Home
  • Kathleen Rivera, Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County
  • Kenny Schaeffler, Devereux Foundation
  • Sarah Harrington, Down Syndrome Association of the Hudson Valley
  • Karena Baez, Greystone Programs
  • Nabil Lopez-Reyes, Mid-Hudson Association for Persons with Disabilities
  • Todd Motter, New Horizons

Organizations partnering with Walkway Over the Hudson on this year’s Walkway Marathon Race Series and the ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash include:

  • Abilities First
  • Anderson Center for Autism
  • Arc of Dutchess
  • Cardinal Hayes Home
  • Devereux Behavioral Health
  • Down Syndrome Association of the Hudson Valley
  • Greystone Programs
  • Maplebrook School
  • Mid-Hudson Association for Persons with Disabilities
  • New Horizons
  • Taconic Innovations
  • Taconic Resources for Independence
  • Dutchess County Government
  • City of Poughkeepsie
  • Dutchess Tourism, Inc.
  • Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club

The Walkway Marathon Race Series, created in partnership with Dutchess County Government, is made possible by contributions from more than 20 sponsors, in-kind donations and media partners. Top sponsors include:

  • Royal Carting
  • Health Quest
  • IBM
  • Altice
  • M&T Bank
  • Mediacom
  • Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County
  • Sims Podiatry

Top in-kind sponsors include:

  • Poughkeepsie Journal
  • iHeart Media
  • Arnoff Moving & Storage
  • Mobile Life Support Services, Inc.
  • Walters-Storyk Design Group
  • M&O Sanitation