Hundreds run for “Uncle Bear” in Manayunk

Runners in the inaugural Manayunk Fools Run clutched their wigs, jester hats, sunglasses, butterfly wings and tutus as they sprinting towards the finish line.

Boas drifted in the breeze and beaded necklaces clacked against bodies in time with each runner’s pace.

Friday’s April Fools evening event commemorated Raymond “Bear” Kodish, who worked for the Spring-Ford School District for 35 years, and died of lung cancer in 2009.

Many of Friday’s participants had driven for more than an hour to participate in the 5 kilometer run or 1 mile walk on the Manayunk Towpath.

The proceeds from the event were split between the Raymond Kodish Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a graduating senior from Spring-Ford High School, as well as the LUNGevity Foundation, a charity fighting to end lung cancer.

The Fools Run was the dream of Collegeville couple Amy and Mike Fabel, who lived together in Manayunk for a year. Raymond Kodish was a good friend of Mike’s father, and was Mike’s godfather. For Mike, Raymond Kodish will always be remembered as “Uncle Bear.”

“This entire race event was created with Uncle Bear’s spirit in mind in every detail,” Fabel wrote on the website for the event.

Despite drizzly, gray weather, 460 people turned out for the cause.

As more clouds rolled in and the start time approached, people were still registering for the race at the main tent on Main Street.

“We had 350 that were actually pre-registered. Then, really unexpectedly, we had way over a hundred race-day registrations,” Fabel said. “We really didn’t expect that, especially with the weather.”

“It was fantastic!” he added. “It was testament to the support for the cause that we were benefiting.”

Fabel attributed the large crowd to the “personality of the event.”

“It was a fun run in Manayunk on a Friday night,” he offers as an explanation for the Fools Run’s popularity.

After the race, runners snacked on bananas and soft pretzels as they walked over to Kildare’s Irish Pub for a free beer.

Kildare’s sponsored the after party and donated 10% of their profits to the LUNGevity Foundation and the Raymond Kodish Scholarship.

The race was also sponsored by the Coach Tomato Café, Wegmans, the Workhorse, Philly Pretzel Factory and Connolly Aesthetic Family Dentistry.

At the after party, Amy and Mike Fabel gave out awards to the fastest racers in each age category as well as winners for the category of “Best Foolish Attire”.

The fastest runner overall was Patrick Leahy of Perkiomen High School with a time of 17 minutes, 32 seconds. After finishing the race, Leahy was seen running down Main Street holding a burrito for the ride back to Red Hill, PA.

Raymond Kodish’s son, Steve Kodish, 29, won the individual “Best Foolish Attire” category for completing the race wearing a full-body lizard costume.

The “Best Foolish Attire” award for a group went to a team of women who called themselves “Live, Love, Run.” The group wore colorful knee socks, tie-dyed headbands, and T-shirts displaying their team logo.

Amy and Mike Fabel would like the race to become an annual April Fools tradition. They plan to continue, but with proceeds benefiting a new cause each year.

“We have so many friends and family with individual causes,” Fabel explains, “and we want to get to all of them.”

For more photos and race results, and to learn more about LUNGevity and the Raymond Kodish Scholarship, visit manayunkfoolsrun.com.

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