By Laura Incalcaterra The Journal News
PIERMONT — A charity started in the name of a fallen September 11 firefighter marked a milestone Saturday as it celebrated its 10th annual event and hoped to raise thousands for homeless veterans.
The Dennis P. McHugh Foundation’s 10th annual 5-K Run/Walk and Family Fair took over Piermont’s Flywheel Park, where racers, parents, kids and volunteers enjoyed each other’s company, food and activities.
McHugh was one of 323 [sic – 343] New York City firefighters killed at the World Trade Center. He was 34 and lived in Sparkill.
“Every year I say it’s the last one and then they talk me into another one,” Una McHugh said.
She and her husband, Dennis, had three children, Chloe and twins Joseph and Sophia.
While the annual event is in her late husband’s name, there were also other reasons for organizing the foundation, Una McHugh said.
“More or less it was really just to teach the children how to give back to the community and how to rebuild and go forward,” McHugh said.
The foundation at first set out to raise money for the Piermont Public Library rebuilding effort and ended up collecting $500,000 of the $2.5 million needed for the job.
Dennis McHugh was an avid runner and a book lover. Piermont’s library, which opened in 2007, was named for him.
The foundation has worked for other causes as well.
Last year’s event raised about $30,000 to benefit Homes for Heroes, which is trying to build garden apartments for homeless and disabled veterans at the former Camp Shanks in Tappan.
The organization is also this year’s designated charity, Una McHugh said.
Brenda Boysa of Blauvelt was among the 5-K participants. She and her friend Jennifer Sirkowa of Sparkill have raced in the event for the past five years.
“It’s just a beautiful run, and it’s a good cause,” Boysa said.
Walter Voss of Clifton, N.J., joined the run because his sisters were participating.
“I enjoy running and fitness and figured I’d come along, too,” Voss said.
Trish Cahill Fleming said she was friends with Dennis and remains so with the McHugh family.
“We try to make it every year,” Fleming said. “It’s a great cause and a good day.”