‘Think Differently Dash’ Draws Hundreds to Downtown Poughkeepsie
Photos by Bob Kopac.
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Hundreds of enthusiastic participants joined a one-mile race down Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie for the Think Differently Dash held on Saturday, June 11. The new “first leg” of the weekend-long Walkway Marathon Race Series provided members of all abilities within the community the chance to be a part of the event.
Walkway Marathon Race Series partners, Walkway Over the Hudson and Dutchess County Government, were joined by representatives from the ten non-profit and educational organizations who assisted in orchestrating the Think Differently Dash, a new feature in this year’s Walkway Marathon Race Series. Walkway Over the Hudson in partnership with Dutchess County Government is scheduled to hold its popular 5K, Half-Marathon and Full-Marathon races the tomorrow morning, Sunday, June 12.
The Think Differently Dash was inspired by Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro’s “Think DIFFERENTLY” initiative, an inclusive philosophy to embrace residents of all abilities – looking past what makes us all different and instead dwelling on the unique potential in us all. He ran alongside his daughter, Abigail, who lives on the autism spectrum, supporting her and the field of 200 Think Differently Dash participants in this first-of-its-kind run/walk in Dutchess County.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Today’s ‘Think DIFFERENTLY’ Dash is the embodiment of a cause I hold dear: helping our neighbors with special needs achieve their fullest in a supportive environment. Regardless of their overall place in today’s Dash, each of these 200 participants is a winner – having overcome obstacles every day just to make it to the starting line. By taking part in this event, they’ve each inspired us to reach for the best within ourselves.”
Approximately 200 participants ran or walked the one-mile course, which started at Main Street near the Hudson Valley Office Furniture, continued west on Main to a turnaround point near Commercial Park, headed east back to the second turnaround point at Hudson Valley Office Furniture, and continued west to the finish line arch on Market Street. Many well-wishers awaited their arrival, including elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Sean Maloney, State Senator Sue Serino, NYS Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison.
“The Think Differently Dash has exceeded our expectations in its first year. This wonderful new race has brought the Walkway Marathon Race Series into the heart of the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. “This race is all about inclusiveness and bringing people and families together for healthy recreational activities. There were so many happy people participating here today!”
“It is an honor for the City to have the opportunity to host the first annual Think Differently Dash,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison. “This city, this community, this race, is about inclusiveness. Sharing this event with so many people today—participating or just cheering on the athletes—is a true example of what this city symbolizes.”
“This is wonderful! We are excited to be a part of the first Think Differently Dash,” said Dash Co-Chair Linda Campbell, of the Arc of Dutchess County. “To celebrate diversity, inclusion and accepting of all people is the best thing that we as a community can all come together for.”
“It was a wonderful experience working with all of the Think Differently Dash partners on this event. We truly wanted to support the County’s Think Differently initiative by including athletes with physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities,” said Walkway Marathon Race Director Susanne O’Neil. “We couldn’t have done this without the support and assistance from Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club members Kathy Smith, Polly Sparling and Lorna Thompson. Their dedication and effort to this race and our community is truly inspiring.”
The race was followed by the Health & Wellness Expo at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center which was hosted by Dutchess County Tourism and featured more than 60 vendors ranging from area fitness businesses—such as MVP Health Care, Sims & Associates Podiatry, and Moriarty Physical Therapy—to regional and state groups like the National Running Center and Taste NY. Walkway Marathon Race Series participants who were registered to run in the 5K, half marathon and full marathon races scheduled for Sunday, June 12 picked up their numbered race bibs and T-shirts at the Expo.
“We are happy to partner with the Walkway to present this free, fun and educational Health & Wellness Expo,” said Mary Kay Vrba, president & CEO of Dutchess Tourism, Inc. “It’s a great opportunity for residents to learn more about how to become healthier individuals and in turn, a healthier county.”
Organizations partnering with Walkway Over the Hudson on this year’s Walkway Marathon Race Series and the Think Differently Dash include:
Dutchess County Government
Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Down Syndrome Association
Taconic Resources for Independence
Anderson Center for Autism
The Arc of Dutchess
City of Poughkeepsie
Mid-Hudson Association for Persons with Disabilities
New Horizons Resources, Inc.
Cardinal Hayes Home for Children
The Walkway Marathon created in partnership with Dutchess County Government, is sponsored by: iHeartMedia, Health Quest, Dutchess Tourism, Inc., Marist College, Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club, Royal Carting, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Arnoff Moving & Storage, Poughkeepsie Journal, TEG Federal Credit Union, Diversified Realty Advisors, MVP Health Care, M&T Bank, Mediacom, Moriarty Physical Therapy, IBM Corporation, Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County, Rose & Kiernan, Inc., Sims Podiatry, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., Luminary Media, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and staffed by hundreds of local volunteers.