Immigrants And Refugees

Through Heat and Sore Muscles, Team Catholic Charities Competes in NYC Marathon

Runners for Team Catholic Charities gathered for a meal of spaghetti the night before the NYC Marathon

Three days after participating in the TCS New York City Marathon, Tatiana Rojas offered an admission:

“I am sore,” she said.

Tatiana is no stranger to marathons. This was her fourth New York race, and her third marathon in three months, after participating in races in Berlin in September and Chicago in October.

The opportunity to offer migrants clothing, food and shelter ‘motivated me to run for Catholic Charities.

But the New York event was particularly special, she said, as every strained muscle and the unusually sticky warm weather was overcome as she was able to contribute to Catholic Charities’ Immigrant and Refugee Services, where she works as a helpline case assistant.

Tatiana Rojas

The opportunity to offer migrants clothing, food, and shelter “motivated me to run for Catholic Charities,” she said.

Tatiana was part of a team of 15 runners who signed up for the 2022 race, as well as four other runners who were deferred entry as the marathon was curtailed for the past two years due to Covid. But this year the race returned in all its glory.

Kieran O’Shea, development coordinator for Catholic Charities New York who organized the endeavor, noted that each runner pledged at least $3,000 to the cause and many provided more, for a total of $70,583 raised.

The money will go to the St. Nicholas Project, which provides winter clothing, New Yorkers in Need.

“Because of your hard work, determination and sore feet, many children in need will be smiling this Christmas,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director for Catholic Charities.

Continuing “we are grateful you are part of the Catholic Charities’ marathon team, and thankful for the extraordinary perseverance you demonstrated on behalf of the children and families we serve.”
The runners represented metro New York, as well as Dallas and Atlanta, and included a new mother who had given birth just months before. Vern Cushenberry of Overland Park, Kansas, ran the race in three hours, eight minutes, the best time for Team Catholic Charities.

They were cheered on by a Catholic Charities contingent of spectators who perched towards the end of the race at the Manhattan end of the Queensboro Bridge and at mile 8 in Brooklyn.

Runners at the NYC Maraton at the 8th Mile, click on the photo to view the video.

After the Covid hiatus the spectators at this year’s race were larger than usual. The MTA noted the subway system recorded the largest weekend number of passengers since before the pandemic, many of whom were observing the 26.2-mile race that winds through all five of the city’s boroughs.

Kieran said interest before the race was high as well, as Catholic Charities received four times the number of applications for the coveted slots.

The crowds were so large that 4-time New York City marathoner Tatiana was unable to locate the Catholic Charities group, but continued undaunted, finishing the race in six hours and eight minutes. It was not one of her better times as Tatiana, 62 years old, previously broke the six-hour barrier.

Because of your hard work, determination and sore feet, many children in need will be smiling this Christmas,

She trained for the race every day, except Fridays, with the help of a coach and extended sessions around Central Park as well as Flushing Meadow Park, near where she lives in Queens. Tatiana previously worked at Elmhurst Hospital, an epicenter of the pandemic, and suffered her own severe case of Covid. The marathons were a kind of coming out event.

Her training will continue. Her next stop: the Tokyo Marathon, scheduled for March of next year.

Applications for the Catholic Charities New York City Marathon Team will be available for next year’s race at the Catholic Charities website by February.