For a lot of people, running a marathon is something to check off the bucket list. For some, it becomes an obsession. And for others, it’s less about the personal achievement and more about having an avenue to support a larger cause. In Kevin Bartolotto’s case, participating in the New York City marathon has allowed him to raise large sums of money for cancer research, and this year, the cause has become even more personal. His father, Nick, owner of Nick’s Auto Repair in Glen Cove, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, so he signed up for a third year.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it this year, but my customers encouraged me,” said Bartolotto, 35, of Bayville.
And some positive things have happened since doing so. For one, Bartolotto was asked to be a representative for the United States in the Parade of Nations, something he is deeply moved by.
“It’s really an honor to be chosen to represent our country,” said Bartolotto.
The Locust Valley grad played sports and wrestled in high school, but was never a runner. He signed up with Fred’s Team three years ago, raising money for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a way to honor his grandmother, who died from lymphoma in 2008. He looked at the training schedule “and figured I’d give it a shot.” He finished in the top 16 percent the first year and decided to do it again.
When his father was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had not initially planned to run, as the training does take time away from his family. Bartolotto has a 16-month-old son and works long days at Nick’s Auto Repair. However, he compensates by incorporating his training as part of his commute: some days he runs the seven miles home to Bayville from work in Glen Cove.
Nick’s Auto Repair has been in business since 1963; it was started by his grandfather, Nick Sr., and Bartolotto said that for him, continuing in the family business was natural, as he always had an interest in cars. And his customers have been a huge support.
This year, Bartolotto is donating all of the money he’s raised to colon cancer research. His father is expected to make a full recovery and his treatment is scheduled to end this month, but it still has been a difficult time.
“When someone you love is sick, you feel helpless. You can’t take their pain, you can’t take their tiredness and you don’t have a cure,” said Bartolotto. “This is my way of making a difference.”
He started with a fundraising goal of $7,500 and has surpassed that by more than double, raising $16,300 as of press time. To support him, donate at mskcc.convio.net/goto/nicksauto.
During his two years on Fred’s Team, he was also one of the top fundraisers and meeting your quota also has its payoffs: he’ll have a free hotel stay in Manhattan prior to the marathon, and his parents will have VIP Grand Stand seating at the finish line.
The parade on Friday, Nov. 2, begins at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed on ABC.